Last time on the blog, we talked about the ways you might be accidentally screwing up your gut health.
Today we’re going to keep the conversation around our gut going, but in a more positive direction. Let’s talk about ways we can improve our gut health, through small and doable steps in a long-term framework you can stick to.
First: Feed your gut’s good guys
- Prebiotic foods
Prebiotics are plant fibers that help healthy bacteria in your gut grow, helping your digestive system work better in turn. Prebiotics are found in many whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Get your prebiotics from foods like: broccoli, kale, cabbage, apples, tomatoes, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, bananas, avocados, almonds, onions, and garlic.
- Resistant starch foods
Resistant starch in foods provides a similar function as soluble, fermentable fiber by helping to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Resistant starch foods increase the production of short-chain fatty acids. Some great sources of resistant starch are oats, rice, potatoes, corn, sorghum, barley, beans and legumes.
- Polyphenol foods
Polyphenols are helpful chemicals in plant-based foods that act as powerful, natural antioxidants. Find your polyphenols in red, blue and purple berries, wine, chocolate, green tea, cashews, and cauliflower.
Second: More food, more benefits!
- Probiotic supplementsProbiotics are good bacteria or yeast that live naturally in your body. Things like infections can add more bad bacteria to our gut, so taking a probiotic supplement can add more good bacteria back into the balance. When choosing a probiotic supplement, make sure and find a brand with lots of research to support their claims.
- Fermented foodsEating fermented foods can help provide beneficial bacteria to help support your residential gut bacteria. Fermented foods are also antimicrobial, which means they actually inhibit bad bacteria in the first place. Many contain prebiotics too! Get your fermented food fix in kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, wine, and unpasteurized beer.
- Other friendly helpersGood bacteria need a healthy mucus and gut lining to survive and thrive. Bone broth is one way to provide that environment for your gut. Aloe vera can also soothe your gut’s lining, and promote good bacteria growth. To repair your gut lining and help with inflammation, turn to colostrum and glutamine supplements, which can be easily added to smoothies.
Third: Help your body out
- Get your exercise in Moderate exercise helps support the health of your gut bacteria. Try a regular practice of walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates, dancing, light jogging, or playing recreational sports. Too much sitting on the couch does not support a healthy gut, but neither will intense and excessive training.
- As always—sleep!Try practicing good bedtime hygiene by going to sleep and getting out of bed at the same times every day, aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Make sure the room you’re sleeping in is cool, dark and free from distractions. Try a nighttime relaxation technique, like meditation or journaling.
- Manage your stressIt’s easier said than done, but keeping your stress levels under control will help keep your gut happy and healthy. Practice deep breathing, meditation, and mindful to lower your cortisol levels. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, or too much alcohol. Make sure you’re prioritizing time with family and friends, instead of time at the office or in front of screens.