Why and How to Keep a Healthy Gut

There are many things we know we need to take better care of, but sometimes don’t feel as though we have the time. Maintaining a healthy gut is certainly a great example. Many facets of modern life such as high stress levels, too little sleep, eating processed and high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics can all damage our gut microbiome. This in turn may affect other aspects of our health, such as the brain, heart, immune system, skin, weight, hormone levels, ability to absorb nutrients, and even the development of cancer.

Healthy Gut

You probably know that gut healthiness does matter, but there are many reasons as to why. Well, believe it or not, your brain is deeply connected to your gut. This helps to explain some of the obvious reasons to keep your gut healthy, such as digestion and keeping a healthy weight. Having the wrong bacteria inside it can actually affect the nerve that connects the gut to the brain, causing unhealthy cravings. An unhealthy gut that is exposed to poor food choices, such as excessive sugar, low-quality carbs, antibiotics, and harmful chemicals and additives, is more likely to become irritated or inflamed. This problem can be compounded if the digestive system lacks the proper digestive plant enzymes needed to break down carbs, proteins, and fats. This can also happen when the unhealthy gut contains too much harmful bacteria or yeast, not enough helpful bacteria, or not enough healthy nutrients.

Importance of Gut Health

Irritation and inflammation of the gut are just the beginning reasons why a healthy gut is so important. Obvious symptoms include cramps, gas, nausea, heartburn, weight gain, and loose stools or constipation; however, these can be indicators of larger issues. An unhealthy gut can lead to other body aches, sleep disorders, headaches, fatigue, and lowered mental focus. It is important to have habits that keep your gut healthy, and for some, have medical tests done to see if the problem

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An unhealthy gut can also be symptomatic of much larger bowel issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and even cancer and diabetes. Aside from digestive stress and related issues, an unhealthy stomach can also increase anxiety and allergies. A healthy gut is full of probiotics, and those probiotics actually can reduce stress and anxiety. Gastrointestinal function is also often linked to food allergies and sensitivities like milk, eggs, and nuts.

How to Improve Gut Health

To prevent these issues and keep a healthful gut, first avoid some unhealthy habits. A poor diet is the cause of an unhealthy gut among many other problems, and while a cup of coffee and a glass of wine may serve as bookends of the day for some of us, these can lead to digestive stress as well. Even some things that we believe are wholly good for us can have negative effects on the health of our guts. The oral contraceptive pill is one of them, and so are many antibiotics and medications. Even excessive cleanliness and avoidance of germs can have negative outcomes, due to the decreased exposure to germs. Stress is another unhealthy habit to be avoided, as the digestive system comes secondary to the fight or flight responses stress may cause; therefore, creating a lack of blood supply to the digestive tracts.

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Diet for Healthy Gut

Alongside working to end these unhealthy habits, there are many things to blend into the diet for a healthful gut, including supplements, foods, drinks, and even plants. The main goal is to incorporate more probiotics and fermented foods into the digestive system, encouraging more healthful bacteria to form in the gut. Some probiotic and prebiotic foods include yogurt, bananas, artichokes, asparagus, miso, and soybeans, among others. Also on the list are garlic and onions, simple prebiotic foods that are easily incorporated into many meals. Taking the yogurt and bananas and turning them into a drinkable smoothie is one way to drink your probiotics. A few less known but highly effective methods include kombucha, a tangy tea, and kefir, a fermented dairy drink that is similar to a milky smoothie.

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When it comes down to incorporating supplements into your diet, methods can vary from person to person. An obvious choice is to take daily probiotics in a capsule or pill form, and this can go right along with maintaining a healthy diet. Calcium is known to increase the health of probiotic bacteria in the gut, and Vitamin D helps to absorb it. Vitamin D can also be useful for any part of building your immunity, including digestion aid, and Omega 3 is helpful when fighting inflammation.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are supplements that help you to fully absorb the important parts of what you eat; even with the perfect diet for a healthy gut, utilizing digestive enzymes ensure that all the vital nutrients from food are digested.

When considering your gut health, it is important to take all aspects of it into account. It also may seem easiest to begin taking supplements and work your way up to a healthy diet; however, eating the right foods and getting the right nutrients will help you in nearly all aspects of your life.

Stephen Sinatra MD

Stephen T. Sinatra (15 October 1946 –19 June 2022) was a board-certified cardiologist specializing in integrative medicine. He was also a certified bioenergetic psychotherapist.

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