Your gut health is important – did you know that up to 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? Not only that, but gut health can also play a role in things like weight loss, a healthy immune system, energy levels, and mood. So how do you know if your gut health is good? And more importantly, what can you do to improve it if it’s not? Keep reading for our top tips on gut health hacks!
As we mentioned, good gut health is important for the entire body. A healthy gut can help improve everything from your immune system to your energy levels. Not to mention, it can also help with things like weight loss and digestion, while an unhealthy gut can lead to chronic diseases and inflammatory bowel disease.
Gut health generally refers to the overall balance of the symbiotic bacteria (the ones that help and are beneficial to you) that reside in your gut microbiome, everything from your esophagus to your stomach and intestines.
When your gut and digestive system is functioning properly it will digest food, fight off harmful bacteria and other negative organisms, and communicate with your brain through automatic responses in the ‘gut brain connection’ to help you maintain your overall health.
When your gut health isn’t in top shape you may be experiencing a variety of negative symptoms because the gut impacts several areas of our overall wellbeing. Signs of gut health imbalance and gastrointestinal diseases include:
– Bloating and excessive gas
– Constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome
– Fatigue or low energy levels
– Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
– Skin issues like rashes or acne
– Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
If you’re experiencing any of these gut health issues, it’s important to take steps to improve your gut health. Keep track of what you eat and note any potentially new foods that may have caused the issues. If symptoms persist contact your physician.
Now that you know why gut health is important and some of the signs that your gut may be unhealthy, let’s talk about how you can test your gut health.
There are a few different ways to test gut health, but one of the most popular methods is through a stool sample test, but this is usually done by medical professionals so we’ll skip that one. If you want to check your general gut health on your own though it isn’t difficult and there are a few ways to do it.
First, look for the obvious signs like sudden changes in your bowel movements and overall digestive function. The sudden onset of diarrhea or constipation is likely a sign that something may be affecting your gut, as well as feeling bloated.
You can also measure how long it takes your gut to digest different foods. Using a food journal to keep track of what you eat and when can be a quick check to see if your gut is working as it should. If you notice anything abnormal that persists seek assistance from your physician or a registered dietitian.
Everyone is different and you may react differently to certain foods so while this is a general list of foods that are best and worst for gut health it’s important to listen to what your gut and your body is telling you!
– Probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut.
– Prebiotic foods like bananas, onions, garlic
– Green Tea
– Plant-based fiber rich foods like beans, legumes, whole grains
– Healthy fats with short chain fatty acids like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial bacteria already living in your gut. They can be found in fermented foods, pickled goods, and supplements and are often called ‘good bacteria’ because they help keep your gut healthy by fighting off harmful bacteria.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-living, indigestible fibers that act as food for probiotics and good gut bacteria. By consuming prebiotic foods you can help increase the number of good gut bacteria in your digestive system.
– Refined sugars which spike blood sugar
– Red Meat, processed foods, and fried foods
– Artificial sweeteners, like sorbitol
While you may not be able to (or want to) avoid all of these gut health no-no’s, it’s important to be mindful of how they affect your gut. If you notice a sudden change in gut health after consuming any one of them try cutting back on them and track the changes in how you feel.
So how can you hack your gut health?
– Eat gut-friendly foods: we already talked about some of the best gut health foods, so make sure to include them in your diet.
– Avoid gut irritants: as we mentioned, certain foods and drinks can irritate the gut so it’s important to be aware of how they affect you and limit them if possible.
– Stress reduction, sleep, and exercise: Research shows these are essential components to functional medicine that affect nearly every aspect of how we feel and they especially affect an important system like our gut. If you’re looking for specific exercises to improve your digestive health try these 7 Yoga Poses or a Healthy Gut.
– Try a lemon salt water gut cleanse. These are quick and easy to do and can improve your gut health quickly if you start this morning habit.
– If you need more, try Gut Health Hacks by Lindsay Boyers for more tips.