5 Tips for Improving Gut Health
The gut plays an integral role in many aspects of overall well-being: digestion, mood, brain health, heart health, immune function and more have all been shown to be linked to the gut. In fact, the gut houses 70% of the cells that make up your immune system so keeping the gut balanced and healthy is critical, especially given our current circumstances.
The gut microbiome is made up of several hundred bacteria—both good and bad. When this bacteria is off-balance, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues, autoimmune disorders, skin conditions, weight fluctuation, inflammation and other ailments.
Because so much of our health begins in the gut, it is imperative to maintain a proper balance of good and bad bacteria, with the goal of a diverse gut microbiome. Below are five tips to help keep your gut in tip-top shape.
Get quality sleep. If you’re struggling to get a full eight hours of shut-eye, this lack of sleep could have a negative impact on your gut health. Studies have shown that insufficient sleep can disrupt the delicate balance and decrease the diversity of the microflora. Make it a priority to get quality, uninterrupted sleep each night in order to promote optimal gut health. To improve sleep naturally, try adjusting your thermostat or changing your bedding to find a comfortable sleeping temperature, or try a natural sleep aid before bed like magnesium, valerian, lemon balm or melatonin supplements.
Add a prebiotic and probiotic supplement to your diet. Probiotics are healthy bacteria, and prebiotics are probiotic food, so adding a supplement with both to your routine will support a healthy intestinal environment and ensure that good bacteria is flourishing. Probiotics disrupt the overgrowth of toxins and bad bacteria and prevent them from passing through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream where they can wreak havoc and cause illnesses.
Make healthier food choices. A diet full of processed foods and high-sugar snacks can create a breeding ground in your gut for bad bacteria to thrive. Instead, fill your diet with nutrients that stimulate the growth of good bacteria. Foods high in fiber like beans, whole grains, fruits and veggies are excellent for your gut. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt contain active cultures that can boost gut microbiome diversity.
Reduce your stress levels. A recent survey from the American Psychological Association found that Americans are feeling higher levels of prolonged stress than they were a year ago. Stress isn’t so bad in small doses, but long-term, constant stress can have devastating effects on gut health and can cause serious gastrointestinal conditions. Finding positive methods to cope with life’s daily stressors is crucial. Relax by adding sunshine, stretching or a massage to your weekly routine. Indulge in some self-care, practice meditation or spend some quality time with a loved one or pet. Reducing your stress will help bring balance back to your microflora.
Get a microbiome test kit. If you’re experiencing persistent digestive issues, weight fluctuations or fatigue and can’t seem to figure out why, you may want to take a closer look at your gut. A microbiome test kit identifies specific bacterial and fungal species and shows how your gut compares to a normal gut microbiome. With this lab data and personalized recommendations of ways to improve your gut diversity, you will be armed with meaningful information to improve your gut health.
The gut is intricately linked to many important facets of physical and mental health, so keeping bacteria within it properly balanced is vital. Following the recommendations above will help you achieve a balanced, diverse gut to enhance your overall well-being.
Justin Marsh is the CEO of Arthur Andrew Medical, a Scottsdale-based manufacturer of enzyme and probiotic based dietary supplements. Arthur Andrew Medical’s products are rooted in science with no processing agents or fillers. They are dedicated to conducting extensive research and clinical applications with dietary supplements for the advancement of natural health alternatives.