How Can I Improve My Gut Health
Every gut just like every person is different. And every gut likes to be fed differently.
But while there is no one-size-fits-all healthy gut diet plan, there are still things that everyone can try that should help you look after your digestive system.
These 15 diet and lifestyle tips will help you on your way to a happy, healthy gut.
Why Gut Health Is Important For Your Body And Your Mind
The gut is composed of a whole host of microbes that affect your physiology and keep your body and brain functioning as they should.
As studies tell us, these gut microbes affect the way you store fat, how you balance levels of glucose in your blood, and how you respond to hormones that make you feel hungry or satiated.
The wrong internal mix can set the stage for obesity and other health issues later in life.
Scientists have also found that gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters that regulate your mood including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
Researchers have also discovered that a nervous system in your gut communicates with the brain in your head. It also plays a role in certain diseases and in mental health.
In other words, the wellness of both your body and your brain depend on your gut health.
Eat A Wide Variety Of Plant
Again, variety is key. Studies have found that a plant-based diet is beneficial in populating good bacteria in the gut.
I recommend aiming for 30 different types of plant-based foods every week including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, specifies Rossi. Getting more plant-based variety in your diet is associated with having a more diverse range of gut microbes, which in turn is linked to the health of pretty much every organ in the body, including your skin, heart and brain.
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Living In The Now Gut Health & Mental Wellbeing With Jonny Wilkinson
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
25 January 2022
Gut Bacteria And Immune Health
Most importantly, a takeover of bad bacteria can dramatically affect immunity and leave room for infection, disease and chronic illnesses to develop. The gut is the first line of communication between the external environment and the immune system. The two work together to mutually regulate our bodys reaction to harmful pathogens.
But when the immune system and gut are working together, things are working smoothly. This encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria, which improves immunity and gut function. It creates stronger responses to pathogens while makes the body more tolerant to your natural gut bacteria.
Kimchi: A Spicy Alternative To Sauerkraut
A Korean alternative to sauerkraut, kimchi is also fermented cabbage made with several different spices and ingredients. Common ingredients include salt, chili powder, onion, garlic, and ginger. Its sometimes traditionally made with a fish stock base, but its easy to find a plant-based version in stores or to make your own at home.
A 2014 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food confirmed that kimchi is high in probiotics, and is an excellent fuel for gut health. Other studies have shown that kimchi can help to fight cancer, obesity, aging, and constipation, while also contributing to your immune system, skin health, and brain health.
Eat kimchi in bowls, wraps, or as a seasoning on just about anything.
Soothe Your Tummy With Tumeric
Tumeric, a spice loaded with curcumin, has anti-inflammatory properties shown to help in a range of conditions triggered by inflammation, including heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease , and even depression, according to a paper published in November 2021 in Drug Design, Development and Therapy. The research also noted that curcumin helps regulate the gut microbiota, bring relief to people with IBD, and reduce inflammation that could likely lead to colon cancer.
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory that can help soothe the digestive tract when you are suffering from an inflammation-related issue, says Finkel.
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Seaweed: A Sea Algae Thats Good For You And Your Gut
Seaweed is hardly a weed. It would probably more aptly be named sea gem on account of its nutrient- and fiber-rich benefits.
A study of Japanese women showed that high seaweed intake increases good gut bacteria. Another study researched alginate, a substance in brown seaweed, and found that it can strengthen gut mucus, slow down digestion, and make food release its energy more slowly.
If youre wondering how to eat it, here are a few ideas. Try some nori wraps, make seaweed salad, add wakame to soup, or add kombu to your stir fry or pot of beans .
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Last but not least is extra virgin olive oil, which has been used for its gut-enhancing properties for hundreds of years. Extra virgin olive oil can be a great tool for achieving overall gut health because it encourages the production of peptides, which support healthy digestion and the absorption of nutrients. As a bonus, extra virgin olive oil also reduces the risk of acid reflux by preventing gastric juices from traveling back up from the stomach. Because it diminishes the motility of gastric acid, extra virgin olive oil helps the stomachâs gastric content release more slowly, helping you feel more full, improving your digestion, and enhancing the absorption of nutrients into your body.
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The Benefits Of Fermented Foods
Its now thought that regularly including these foods in your diet could help keep your gut happy.
One of the benefits of fermented foods is that they are naturally teeming with the healthy bacteria your body needs and scientists think this may play an important role in keeping your own community of friendly gut bugs thriving.28
Each of us has over 100 trillion live bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, aka our gut, which help our body to perform a number of different tasks.
However, our gut bacteria need to be balanced to work at their best.
For example, there need to be enough good live bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria that make us ill.
Balanced gut bacteria can support the following systems in the body:
- Digestive system
In a 2015 review, published in the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, researchers found that having a varied community of gut bugs may play a role in easing a range of bowel conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome.29
As well as helping your digestive health, feeding your gut bacteria may in turn also support other aspects of your wellbeing for example, your mental health.
In 2016, researchers at University College Cork reported that giving healthy people cocktails of friendly bacteria for four weeks altered their brain activity in MRI scans.
Participants were less likely to experience negative thoughts when they felt low.30,31
Double Your Fibre Intake
Fibre isnt really food for us at all: unlike horses, elephants or cows, we cant extract any nutrients from it. But our gut flora thrive on it. The research to back the benefits of a high-fibre diet is overwhelming. One study found that a low-fibre diet can trigger a substantial dip in the diversity of our gut flora, increasing the risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity-related disease, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis liver, disease, and colorectal cancer .
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Gum Arabic: Sap From The Acacia Tree
You may not have heard of this superfood, but its a prebiotic and has a substantial amount of fiber.
A 2008 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that gum arabic increases good bacterial strains, particularly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.
Also known as acacia fiber, you can stir the powder in water and drink it or take it as a supplement.
What Is The Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome lives in your large intestine, and its home to the most diverse bacteria in your entire body. Thats because, unlike any other part of the body, your digestive tract is an open ecosystem, which is more exposed to its external environment than any other part of the body.
What does this mean? Well, the gut microbiome can be shaped by things like gender, age, geographic and socio-economic conditions, diet, and health conditions. It also means that every persons gut microbiome will be different, and affected by different factors.
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Apples: An Apple A Day Keeps The Doc Away
Maybe the easiest fruit to find, apples are an excellent dietary addition.
They are high in fiber. And, a 2014 study in Food Chemistry found green apples boost good gut bacteria.
Eat apples raw as a snack. Or you can even enjoy them stewed. Stewed apples have been found to be good for your microbiome, and they may also help to heal your gut.
When buying apples, choose organic if possible because apples are on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen list of produce with the most pesticides.
What You Need To Know About Superfoods
People think of the term Superfoods and they immediately conjure up images of colorful fruits and vegetables. While all that produce is definitely good for you and should be considered superfoods, there are plenty of other foods that can be very beneficial to your gut and body as a whole. As weve learned, superfoods can also be grains, seeds, etc.
Switching your diet over to one that focuses more on superfoods doesnt have to be expensive. The foods that weve talked about here are quite affordable and easy to find. They make a huge difference in your gut and microbiome thanks to their prebiotic properties.
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Good Gut Bugs And How To Get Them
Positive bacteria are often called healthy gut bugs.
Good gut bugs help your body digest and absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, and rally against intruders, such as the flu and toxic-forming carcinogens.
In the wise words of David Perlmutter, MD: A healthy microbiome translates into a healthy human.
Miso: A Traditional Japanese Bean Paste
If nothing else, youve probably had some experience with miso soup, but this soybean paste has a whole host of uses in the kitchen.
Plus, its brimming with good bacteria, and may even helpprevent cancer and lower blood pressure.
Miso paste can be used to make soup, added to salad dressings, or turned into a healthy mustard or plant-based miso-mayo.
Remember to choose organic miso products if you can because most non-organic soy is genetically modified.
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How To Restore Gut Health While Taking Antibiotics
Avoiding antibiotics altogether is the easiest way to ensure antibiotics dont disrupt your gut microbiome. However, a severe infection can make taking them unavoidable and you will need to take steps to proactively restore your gut health and combat the effects of the antibiotics.
Something to note is that antibiotics should never be used to treat sinus infection or some ear infections because most of the time they are viral infections and not bacterial.2 Viral infections are caused by viruses and typically last 10-14 days. Bacterial infections are secondary infections usually caused by a virus. If symptoms such as a runny nose lasts longer than 14 days or you have a fever that gets worse, its likely due to a bacterial infection.
Worst: Foods With Antibiotics
Antibiotics canât tell the difference between âgoodâ and âbadâ bacteria, so they kill them all. Often, farmers treat animals with antibiotics to keep them from getting infections. If you eat these animal products, you can kill the healthy bacteria in your gut. And because some bacteria become antibiotic resistant over time, meaning the drugs no longer affect it, you might end up with a hard-to-kill superbug.
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The Best Foods For Gut Health
25 Jan 2022
What should you eat to keep your gut healthy? And can bacteria really be good for you?
With the help of Holland & Barrett nutritionist, Isabel Tarrant, we delve into the science of digestion and reveal some of the best foods for gut health.
Also, find out why fermented foods are the hottest new wellness trend and how to include them in your diet to work towards a healthy gut.
Get Loads Of Fiber From Beans
Fiber its essential for digestion. Beans, such as navy, kidney, and black beans, are an easy way to hit that daily target. Navy beans have a whopping 19 g of fiber per cup, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Good news for those worried about having too much gas from high-fiber foods: Research published in Nutrition Journal showed that people had less gas than they thought they would when upping black-eyed peas consumption. Only half of participants reported any increase in gas at first and, by the end of the first week, that number had dropped to just 19 percent, making eating black-eyed peas a digestive tip you can live with. The study also looked at tolerance for baked beans and pinto beans and found that tolerance for all of these increased over time.
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Ban Added Sugar From Your Life
Added sugar is like rocket fuel for your microbiome. That sounds like a good thing, but unfortunately it appears to encourage specific families of bacteria to take over, crowd others out and tip a balanced gut into dysbiosis. In one study, mice fed high-sugar diets lost gut microbial diversity, and developed leakier guts: the tight junctions in their gut walls actually opened wider due to inflammation caused by high sugar intake .
The Wellness Benefits Of A Healthy Gut
Within the gut exists a thriving community of bacteria. As well as aiding digestion, they provide essential support for immune functioning, your skin, and brain health.
We have approximately 100 trillion live bacteria living inside of us this equates to 2kg of our body weight, says Isabel Tarrant, Holland & Barratt nutritionist. These helpful bacteria thrive by feeding off the food we eat. So, food is essential not only to feed and fuel us, but also to feed and fuel our friendly gut bacteria.
But how does what happens in our gut impact our overall health and wellness?
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Try A Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet, i.e. the typical diet of people living in the Mediterranean, is thought to be one of the healthiest in the world.
It is rich in healthy fats and high in vegetables and whole grains, nuts and legumes. It contains less dairy and alcohol and very few processed foods.
Studies show that people who follow the Mediterranean diet live longer and are healthier overall including their digestive tracts. The diet is also linked to reduced risk of a host of health conditions.10
Symptoms Of An Unhealthy Gut
There are many ways to tell if youre having problems with your gut. The first and most obvious sign youll get is that youll have an upset stomach and abdominal pain.
Food intolerances: You may also find that you are intolerant to certain foods, which are caused by the bad types of bacteria in your gut. These intolerances present themselves when your body is unable to digest certain foods .
Food cravings: You may also find that you often crave specific types of foods, especially sweet foods. Consistently giving in to those sugar cravings leads to higher levels of bad bacteria in the gut since these harmful bacteria consume that sugar and reproduce at a faster rate. Over time, this leads to the bad bacteria outcompeting the healthy bacteria in your gut as the dominant population, which can lead to inflammation and other diseases.
Weight changes: If you lose or gain weight too fast unintentionally, that can be another sign of having an unhealthy gut.
Skin quality: Your skin can also be a telltale sign of having a bad gut. Some skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis can be the results of gut issues.
Feeling tired: Youll find yourself to be more tired throughout the day and have trouble sleeping.
Increase Your Intake Of Probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that provide a specific health benefit when consumed.
Probiotics dont permanently colonize the intestines in most cases. However, they may benefit your health by changing the overall composition of the microbiome and supporting your metabolism .
A review of seven studies found that probiotics have little effect on the gut microbiome composition of healthy people. However, there is some evidence that probiotics may improve the gut microbiome in those with certain diseases .
One review of 63 studies found mixed evidence of the effectiveness of probiotics in altering the microbiome. But the researchers noted that the probiotics strongest effects seemed to be in restoring the microbiome to a healthy state after it had been compromised .
Nevertheless, some studies have shown that probiotics can improve the functioning of certain gut bacteria, as well as the specific types of chemicals they produce .
You can increase your intake of probiotics by consuming more probiotic-rich foods, including fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
Alternatively, you can consider using a probiotic supplement. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting supplementation, especially if you are taking other medications or have any underlying health conditions.