Try To Minimise Stress
Studies have found that stress triggers a fight-or-flight response that releases hormones in various parts of your body, which in turn affects your microbiome . To compound the situation, that altered gut microbial population then affects the regulation of neurotransmitters, intensifying stress further .
Broccoli: More Reason To Eat This Popular Veggie: Its Good For Your Gut
Not everyone is a fan of this green cruciferous veggie, but its health benefits are undeniable.
In a 2017 study in the Journal of Functional Foods, when mice ate broccoli with their regular diet, it improved their intestinal health.
The effects may also apply to other veggies in the cruciferous family. So load up on cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage. Add them to stir-frys, roast them, steam them, or grate and pile them on top of your favorite salad.
Develop And Control Your Immune System
We now know that bacteria play a role in encouraging immune tissue to grow in a babys gut, setting up their immune system for the rest of their lives . In adults, they also help to prevent infections like food poisoning or influenza by stopping pathogenic bacteria from getting a foothold in your gut .
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How To Support Your Gut Health
There are several ways you can give your gut a helping hand and promote good gut health. Consumption of probiotics, live digestive bacteria and yeasts that we can take as a supplement, support a healthy gut flora as they are designed to reach the gut alive and boost the populations of good bacteria and yeasts. Keeping these bacteria healthy prevents the overgrowth of bad microorganisms, which can cause digestive issues.
Prebiotics can also support the health of your gut microbiome, as they are a source of food for your gut flora, helping to keep populations balanced.
Dietary fiber plays a role in slowing down gut motility, giving the large intestine time to absorb water so it is not passed in stool. It is also a bulking agent, binding indigestible matter together to be passed by the body as stool.
Dean recommends eating a variety of foods to support good gut health. We can support our gut health by increasing the microbial diversity. This is the measure of the different types and amount of bacterial species in the gut microbiome, she says.
Ideally, we want high increased numbers of species and a high evenness no dominating species. A good place to start is by getting a varied diet, rich in plant foods. Fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds are prebiotic foods that feed our beneficial bacteria and help our microbiome to thrive.
Probiotics Are Great For Your Gut
Probiotics are chock-full of live bacteria that will help ensure your gut is populated by mostly the good types of microbes. You can get a good probiotic supplement at your local health food store, however, make sure you ask your doctor what strains of cultures are best for you, and the condition you are trying to treat. There are many probiotic products out there that claim to have live cultures but do not, so it is important to do your research beforehand and speak to a registered dietitian or health care professional about choosing a probiotic that is right for you.
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How To Tell If Your Gut Is Unhealthy
If your gut is unhealthy, it may be giving you potential warning signs that something is wrong. One of the first signs will be an upset stomach. This doesnt refer to nausea or vomiting, but other types of GI disturbances, such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, although its unlikely to have constipation and diarrhea occur comorbidly. Patients usually have one symptom or other, although both can occur at different times. Persistent heartburn or acid reflux can also occur. These GI disturbances will occur because the gut is unhealthy, and its having a difficult time processing food and eliminating waste. When the gut is in balance, it doesnt struggle to perform these essential functions. A diet high in sugar keeps the gut in an imbalanced state. Combined with a diet thats also high in processed foods , this reduces the amount of good bacteria in your gut, leaving a lot of room for bad bacteria to grow. When this happens, the body struggles to process food correctly. In fact, your body will become so imbalanced that, because of the imbalance of the gut flora, this will cause increased sugar cravings, which will cause you to eat even more sugar. This vicious cycle will continue until you decide to break it. A continued imbalance of gut health will lead to increased inflammation. Increased inflammation has been directly correlated with cancer.
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 .
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Ways To Heal Gut Health Naturally
Gut health refers to the health of the digestive tract, or gut, the organ that digests and absorbs nutrients from food to provide fuel for your body. But your digestive tract does so much more. It also plays a vital role in maintaining mental and physical health. Thats why you want your gut to thrive and flourish. Most doctors believe gut health is integral to overall health, specifically in terms of disease prevention.
Its estimated that 80% of diseases can be linked back to an imbalance in gut bacteriaa condition called dysbiosis. When the gut is unbalanced, the wrong types of bacteria multiply and crowd out beneficial species. The result is inflammation, which can damage other parts of your body. Thats not what you want. Lets look at some ways to heal your gut and keep it healthy.
Identify Food Sensitivities
Many people have unique sensitivities to food. Yet food sensitivities are distinct from food allergies. Food allergies are caused by an overactive immune response to a particular protein in a food and are often genetic. Food sensitivities are caused by an intolerance to food due to a lack of enzymes your body needs to digest that food. For example, lactose intolerance causes digestive issues when you consume dairy products. Its caused by low levels of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose in dairy foods.
Add More Fermented Foods to Your Diet
Consume More Prebiotic Foods
Find Better Ways to Manage Stress
Keep Working With A Trusted Expert A Few Times A Year
Even when weve experienced a certain level of healing, that doesnt mean that we have to give up on checking in with a nutritionist, functional medicine doctor, or even a therapist.
Even though Im a nutritional therapist myself, I still have my own practitioner that I see to help keep up with any health changes I have and make sure that my maintenance protocols are appropriate. You dont have to have a flare to need a change in protocol and working with a doctor, or expert is the best way to do it. I try to be careful to never treat myself 100% and trust outside opinions.
Of course, can learn a lot from each other on podcasts, blogs, and in books. These resources are priceless, and incredibly helpful. Ive benefited so much from the advice, recipes and ideas Ive gotten from likeminded folks online. However, its not as personalized as working with a professional.
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What Can I Do To Heal My Gut Naturally
When it comes to healing your gut, youll have your own path to follow. Our microbiomes are as unique as our fingerprints, and they sit in a body made up of complex, interdependent systems we are only beginning to understand.
For you, tweaking your diet might be enough to get on top of your gut health. But someone else suffering the same symptoms may spend months or years exploring different approaches to solving their problem.
If your answers arent coming easily, look into testing, or try an elimination diet to identify which foods could be causing you problems. Our practitioners are on hand to guide you with either of these.
Exercise In Your Gut Health Diet
Who knew that getting the heart pumping and the sweat pouring was good for the diversity of your microbiome? Well it is, and heres why.
Research has shown that individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle have a less diverse microbiome. Therefore, its not just what you put into your body that counts, there are so many other lifestyle aspects involved in improving gut health.
But dont despair, there are simple things you can do about it. Athletes, for example, have a more diverse gut than nonathletes. But you dont need to be an Olympian to make a difference. Walking, jogging, and dancing all count, just aim for 150 minutes each week alongside some strength exercises. Trust us, your gut bacteria will love you for it.
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Your Gut Is Central To Your Nervous System
There are approximately 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract, making up the Enteric Nervous System and primarily governing digestion. The nerves in your gut communicate with the brain in your central nervous system, relaying the health of the gut and immune system. The ENS can also produce neurochemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, which can impact mood and mental health. New research suggests there could be a link to memory and thinking skills. In fact, the ENS is so significant that many physicians refer to the gut as a second brain.
Only Take Antibiotics When Theyre Absolutely Necessary
Researchers at Stanford University screened more than 900,000 genetic samples from the stool of healthy men and women who took the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. They found that most of the gut microbiome returned to normal after four weeks, but that the numbers of some bacteria were still reduced six months later . In a subsequent study, they concluded that the full consequences of that course of antibiotics remain unknown. .
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Choose Foods That Are High In Fiber
Fiber helps your body process the food you eat, absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins and waste successfully. Fiber is found in most fruit, vegetables and whole grains, but these foods are not all created equally. Fresh greens, veggies and fruits, especially those with edible skins like potatoes, carrots and apples, are usually high in fiber. Keep in mind that the skins of fruits and vegetables are often high in potassium, though, so make sure to monitor your potassium levels and take your potassium binder if your doctor has prescribed one for you. Fortunately, AKF has many resources about monitoring potassium on Kidney Kitchen.
Find Healthy Ways To Lower Stress
Stress is a natural part of life, but too much stress, especially when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on your health in a number of ways, including your gut health. Its not entirely clear why stress impacts the gut so profoundly, but experts do know that the gut is supplied with nerves by the enteric nervous system. This is a huge network of nerves that intricately controls the workings of the gut, Dr. Boxer explains. It can affect and cause pain, constipation, diarrhea, and many other symptoms.
Its impossible to avoid stress entirely , but you should take time out of your day, even if only for a few minutes, to do something that relaxes you and reduces stress, Dr. Pimentel says. Play with your pet, read a book, watch a funny TV episode, or take a yoga class.
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Probiotics And Prebiotics: Two Gut
These two terms probiotics and prebiotics are becoming more widely known, so youve probably heard them.
Probiotics are beneficial good gut bugs. And prebiotics are food for these bacteria.
You can get both probiotics and prebiotics by eating the right foods.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods, as well as in some supplements. And prebiotics are found in certain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The most central prebiotic of all is fiber.
Eating Right For Your Microbes
What you eat isn’t just nutrition for you, it also feeds the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut.
Every person is different, but if you want to improve your digestion, lose weight or look after your general health, there are some broad principles that apply to all.
Easy tips for gut health
- Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods.
- Eat more fibre. Most people eat less than they should. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains feed healthy bacteria.
- Avoid highly processed foods. They often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good’ bacteria or increase ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Probiotic foods, such as live yoghurt, might encourage more microbes to grow. Eat them if you enjoy them.
- Choose extra-virgin olive oil over other fats when you can. It contains the highest number of microbe-friendly polyphenols.
- Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad. If you need antibiotics, make sure you eat lots of foods that boost your microbes afterwards.
- If your diet is low in fibre, a sudden increase can cause wind and bloating. This is less likely if you make gradual changes and drink extra water.
Probiotics vs prebiotics
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Take A Prebiotic Or Probiotic
While research is ongoing, adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet may help improve your gut health. Prebiotics provide food meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are live good bacteria.
People who have a severe illness or weakened immune system should not take probiotics. Also, not all probiotic supplements are high quality or beneficial for your health.
Its best to speak with a healthcare professional when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic supplement to help improve your health.
Fad Diets Should Be Avoided
Science has shown repeatedly that dieters are doomed to failure, yet new fad diets always manage to find abundant followers.
Fad diets are often restrictive novelties that are not backed up by medical research. In many cases, they promise quick and easy weight-loss strategies without any information about the science, risks, and potential long-term consequences for your health, gut, and microbiome.
These nutritional regimes can mean cutting out whole food groups or eating a specific type of food. A major one is the no-carb craze, but we know that a healthy microbiome and happy gut flora need prebiotic fibres to produce beneficial metabolites. Just removing food can disturb this sensitive ecosystem and your bodys delicate metabolic balance.
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What Can I Do Today To Help My Gut Microbiome
You can take action right now to help promote and maintain your gut health. Number one is to ensure a healthy diet with lots of fiber and nutrients. Eat lots of diverse fruits and vegetables. Also, try to eat complex fibrous carbohydrates like whole grains and root vegetables.
Next, try to find a source of probiotics and prebiotics that work for you. If you dont have time to ferment things like sauerkraut or kombucha, you can try buying these products from a natural health store. They tend to be expensive but theyre worth it. If you dont like fermented foods then you can find probiotics and prebiotics in a pill format.
Jerusalem Artichoke: Also Known As Sunroot Sunchoke Or Earth Apple
This unique tuber may be widely overlooked, but its one of the best foods for gut health, as its also rich in inulin.
Dont let the name fool you though its nothing like the leafy green artichoke. This root vegetable is starchy, savory, and has a slightly sweet and nutty taste.
A 2010 study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that the prebiotic effect of Jerusalem artichoke can increase the fecal Bifidobacterium level and causes an increase in the level of the Lactobacillus/Enterococcus group .
One thing to note: Jerusalem artichokes can ahem increase digestive activity, so go slow if youre just starting to eat them. And for newbies, you can cook them like a potato. Or to get the most gut-boosting benefits, shred Jerusalem artichoke raw and add it to salads.
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Bananas: One Of The Most Popular Foods In The World
This popular and versatile fruit is brilliant at restoring harmony in your guts ecosystem.
Bananas are also heavy in potassium and magnesium, which can aid against inflammation. A 2011 study in the journal Anaerobe even showed that bananas can reduce bloating and help support release of excess weight.
So slice some on your cereal, blend them in a smoothie, or keep them on hand for midday snack attacks.
What Is A Microbiome
The microbiome is comprised of all the microbes that live in a particular environment. We have a gut microbiome, but we also have one on the skin, in our homes, and in nature. In fact, we all live in one giant microbiome, called earth. The environment and how we interact with it has a big part to play in the health of our bodies. We also affect the microbiome for other living things as well. Every time we dump carbon and other pollutants in the air and water, we affect the overall microbiome we will live in. In turn, this also causes problems with our microbiome in and on our bodies.
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