What Is Your Gut
When doctors talk about your gut, they mean the entire length of your digestive system. This begins with your mouth and throat and extends through the internal organs that process food into energy, including the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The gut also includes your excretory system, which passes waste out of your body through your colon and rectum.
All of the organs in your digestive system contain trillions of bacteria. These microorganisms, which are called your gut flora, are an essential part of the digestive process. When these bacteria feed on sugars and fibers in your diet, they break them down into a form that your cells can use for energy. An imbalance of your gut flora can lead to health problems.
Could Boost Immune Function
Thanks to its high concentration of beneficial bacteria, adding water kefir to your daily diet could give your immune system a hearty boost.
Studies show that certain strains of probiotics could help reduce your risk of intestinal infections, prevent the recurrence of urinary tract infections in women and even keep respiratory infections at bay .
In animal studies, kefir has also been shown to help suppress inflammatory responses triggered by issues like asthma .
Plus, one small six-week study in 18 people found that consuming kefir daily was able to control inflammation and optimize levels of immune cells in the body .
Water kefir may help reduce inflammation and alter levels of immune cells to enhance immune function. Due to its probiotic content, it may aid in reducing your risk of certain infections as well.
Kick Processed Foods To The Curb
Processed foods should be avoided at all costs. They are filled with harmful chemicals, tons of processed salt & sugar, and trans fats. But it doesnt end there. Since processed foods arewellprocessed, they are digested very quickly. This may sound good at first, but its not.
When food is digested quickly, it is rapidly released into the body. So lets say you just ate a pre-packaged oatmeal cookie. All of the ingredients in that cookie including the sugar and flour are processed as well. When these processed substances hit our gut, they are quickly digested.
The sugar in this case would cause for a rapid spike in your blood sugar which puts stress on your pancreas . The calories are also quickly made available which can cause your body to store the excess energy as fat. This is how processed foods can make you gain weight considerably fast.
Easy Fix: Instead of purchasing processed or pre-packaged foods, opt for traditional and whole foods. Here is a chart of some common processed foods compared to their whole-food original form:
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Drink Alcohol In Moderation
A glass of red wine now and then wont damage your gut, but if you are regularly drinking more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol per week you risk upsetting your microbiome.
This is particularly true if you are a man drinking eight or more units in one session, or a woman drinking six or more. This is defined as binge drinking, which can unsettle your gut bacteria, encourage acid production and aggravate existing digestive disorders.11
Take A Probiotic Supplement
The diversity of your gut microbiome and its balance can be supported by taking a probiotic supplement. A probiotic is a yeast or bacterial strain that is compatible with us. Probiotics introduce good bacteria and help to keep pathogenic bacteria from dominating and upsetting the delicate ecosystem in your intestinal tract. Depending on the strain they reside in either the small or large intestine. Probiotics tend to multiply quickly and compete with the pathogenic bad bacteria for food and space to establish a healthier balance between the two. In supporting better gut flora balance, probiotics increase your capacity to digest food more effectively, ensuring your food is broken down into smaller molecules so that they can make their way seamlessly through the gut wall and into your blood stream.Lifestream offer 3 probiotics to choose from designed to support your specific needs. If you need help with choosing the right probiotic, or if you’re taking medication, give our Naturopath a call for a confidential chat on 0800 88 15 15.
Our 3 probiotic formulas are micro-encapsulated so they get where they need to be in your gut to work best, and they don’t need to be refrigerated – which is great if you need to keep your probiotics in your bag with you.
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Gut Health Hacks That Work
You can nurture a diverse gut microbiome for good gut health without supplements, fortified foods or microbiome tests. Experts say these six everyday strategies work:
1. Eat fermented foods regularly
People who had fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, the yogurt-like drink kefir or kombucha daily for 10 weeks increased the diversity of their gut microbiome in an August 2021 Stanford University study. But study participants who ate more high-fiber foods saw no increase in diversity, a finding that shocked the researchers, according to Wastyk, colead author of the study. No one expected the fermented foods group to have that response, she says. Everyone was like, ‘What the heck?’
Even more surprising: Just 10 percent of the good bacteria found in the fermented foods actually took up residence in participants gut. Wastyk thinks fermented foods may increase diversity by knocking the microbiome a little off-balance, giving small colonies of existing bacteria a chance to grow. Wastyk suggests finding several fermented foods you enjoy and having some daily. Look for yogurt with live, active cultures and for foods that havent been heat-processed, which would kill off the bacteria, she adds.
2. Eat a wider variety of produce
3. Toast your good bugs with a mug of tea or coffee
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Which Foods Can Heal Your Gut
No one food or supplement can heal your gut: thats not how your body works. Your gut is one system that is part of an incredibly complex, much bigger system. All the other systems in your body, like your endocrine system, immune system or nervous system, for example, are connected to it.
So, healing your gut takes more than changing your diet, but a great way to start is to focus on replenishing your microbiome . You can do this by including plenty of probiotic foods in your diet, as theyre rich in the good bacteria your gut needs to reach optimum health. These foods include:
To learn more about healing your gut, check out our blog, How Long Does It Take To Repopulate The Gut With Good Bacteria?
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How To Improve Gut Health #: Limit Processed Foods
We all know that processed foods arent great for us, but did you know that they can be particularly bad for gut health? Research shows that diets high in highly processed foods are associated with less diverse gut bacteria, which is a sign of poor gut health. This includes:
Over time, this means that eating processed foods can cause gut dysbiosis, which can lead to inflammation and eventually other health problems . If you need a reason to opt for natural, whole foods, this is it. Swap sweets for fruit and your gut will thank you!
Your Gut Is Like A Lawn
It can be helpful to think of your gut as a lawn. You should avoid walking over it every few hours to let it flourish. The microbiome will enjoy more diversity if it doesnt have food charging through it all day long. The advice to graze and eat little and often is now being called into question. You may like snacking, but your gut isnt overly keen on it. Limiting snacks will give your gut time to rest and thrive.
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Leave Out Late Night Snacking
Leaving a gap of 12 hours between your dinner and breakfast, or intermittent fasting, may benefit your gut microbes, explains Professor Spector, in his book Spoon-Fed. One explanation behind the potential benefit could be that gut microbes may need to rest and recuperate as part of a daily circadian rhythm, which could be important for our gut health, writes Spector.
Other studies have found that after Ramadan, people who had been fasting had increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria and more microbial variety . However, these studies are small and limited to particular ethnic groups so more research needs to be done in this area.
Not everyone will find it useful or beneficial to change their eating pattern, especially if it means cutting out a healthy wholegrain breakfast and reaching for processed convenience snacks later.
Tips To Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together.
Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. There are some organs we can live without, including our spleen, gall bladder, tonsils and appendix, but we wouldnt survive long without our gut microbes. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same we are all unique. And more than ever, were finding out just how important these microbes are.
Read more about the microbiome:
According to research, the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. This has been shown in animal tests and also in human studies comparing the microbes of people with and without particular diseases. Examples from recent work at Kings College London include studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to allergies and asthma.
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Dont Break Fast With Breakfast
For years, weve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that we need to breakfast like a king, that we should go to work on an egg. The main rationale behind pushing breakfast was predicated on supporting energy levels and preventing overeating. However, there is research which suggests that skipping breakfast might not cause weight gain afterall . In fact, one school of thought, that time-restricted eating may support the gut and help certain people to lose weight . However, energy levels and concentration may suffer as a result, so dont enter fasting lightly.
Good Foods To Help Your Digestion
The occasional fry-up or alcohol binge is unlikely to give you anything more than a short-lived stomach upset. But overindulge too often and you could be storing up trouble for yourself. Here’s a tummy-friendly diet to aim for.
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How Do I Improve My Gut Health
Think of your gut microbiome as a lush forest of all kinds of different trees. It needs to grow, flourish, stay fresh. You need to keep that forest healthy.
What are the trees? They are trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Together, they are known as the microbiome. A largely important ecosystem in your body.
Some of these bacteria, fungi and viruses are associated with disease and illness. Most should be doing incredible works for your body.
To put in your mind how important gut health is- did you know we are more bacteria than we are human? How can this be? Science has shown us that there are roughly 40 trillion bacteria only 30 trillion human cells.
A healthy gut goes beyond digestion: it plays into your energy levels, mood, your immune system, weight, heart health, and more.
If you struggle with gut issues, fear not. It can be a long and patient road, but results can come. Health can be achieved.
Were here to give you ways to improve your gut health and reclaim your vitality.
How The Microbiome Relates To Proper Digestion
In a nutshell, the gut microbiome = all the microbes in your intestines. A good gut microbiome helps control digestion.
With every meal, millions of microbes enter our body. Nothing comes in contact more with these microbes than your digestion system Turning food into nutrition can take a lot of work on a molecular level.
To not be feeding your gut microbiome with the good bacteria that it needs, would be a disservice to you.
3. Eat less sugar
Constipation Or Irregular Stools
If your bowel movements are hard and difficult to pass, this is classed as constipation and a sign that your gut isnt as healthy as it could be.
This is the same for loose and watery stools aka diarrhoea. Make sure you are drinking enough water, consuming enough fibre in your diet and exercising regularly.10
Constipation is a common digestive condition that affects people of all ages. Everyones bowel habits are different but youre likely to be experiencing constipation if:
- youve been to the loo three times or less this week
- your stools feel larger than usual and difficult to push out
- your stools are hard, dry or lumpy11
Some people also experience stomachache or a feeling of fullness or bloating.12
Still not sure if your number twos look how they should? Check out our beautiful stool chart for further guidance.
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Work On Your Overall Health
The basics of health promotion for the human body like exercising, limiting alcohol intake, and managing stress are just as effective for promoting gut health as they are for helping you add some muscle, lose fat, or get a bit stronger.
Good cardiovascular health and regular exercise are linked to microbiome diversity and high levels of beneficial microbes. Drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day, on the other hand, likely increases the risk of colon cancer. Theres also some evidence that significant stress is associated with more severe gastrointestinal disease symptoms.
If youre already exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, and managing stress, you have a solid foundation. If not, turning toward your top-level health habits is a productive place to begin. Grabbing a gut health supplement off the bat may be ignoring the root cause of your distress.
In Short Heres How To Have A Healthy Gut
Never to underestimate the importance of gut health when it comes to your body and wellbeing. Its home to trillions of bacteria, not to mention actual human cells, that work hard to keep you fit and well. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on this balance.
Making simple positive changes like more fiber in your diet, more exercise, and less unnecessary medication is how to get a healthy gut and wholesome gut microbiome. Just remember, you really do have the power to change, one step at a time.
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The Impact Of Antibiotics On Gut Health
One reason your gut health may be poor is if you recently took a course of antibiotics. While taking antibiotics is often unavoidable, they unfortunately cant tell the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria and can decimate the populations of good microorganisms in our guts. People commonly develop IBS after a course of antibiotics, with studies showing they can cause symptoms in people who have never experienced them before due to an increase in the permeability of the gut wall.
Diarrhoea is a common side effect of taking antibiotics, says Dean. Their use can have several negative effects on the gut microbiota, including reduced species diversity, altered metabolic activity and the selection of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. Overall, this can negatively affect the balance of bacteria in the gut.
If youve recently taken a course of antibiotics, it may be beneficial to consume some of the foods above to help restore a healthy balance in your gut.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to offer medical advice.
If You Can Breastfeed For At Least 6 Months
A babys microbiome begins to properly develop at birth. However, studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria even before birth .
During the first 2 years of life, an infants microbiome is continuously developing and is rich in beneficial Bifidobacteria, which can digest the sugars found in breast milk .
Many studies have shown that infants who are fed formula have an altered microbiome with fewer Bifidobacteria than infants who are breastfed (
A number of studies have shown that vegetarian diets may benefit the gut microbiome, which may be due to their high fiber content.
For example, one small 2013 study found that a vegetarian diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in people with obesity, as well as reductions in body weight, inflammation, and cholesterol levels .
A 2019 review noted that plant foods are rich in specific nutrients that can increase levels of beneficial bacteria and decrease harmful strains of bacteria to support gut health .
However, it is unclear if the benefits of a vegetarian diet on the gut microbiome are due to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may also play a role.
Vegetarian and vegan diets may improve the microbiome. However, it is unclear if the positive effects associated with these diets can be attributed to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may be involved.
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