Your digestive system is responsible for more than just breaking down your food; it is much more complex than that. Taking care of your gut health and supporting it in every way possible means improving your overall health and wellbeing. Not only does gut health play a vital role in banishing unwanted digestive diseases, but it also greatly contributes to the well-being of your mental health, immune system, skin conditions, and more.
The digestive system is deemed healthy when the microorganisms and gut microbiome maintain the needed balance. Unlike many people believe, there are important microbes that live within the digestive tract and have essential roles. However, there are still some that can be harmful and can leave you dealing with multiple gut diseases.
The real question here is, what role do we have to keep our gut health in check? Your number one solution is going for superfoods that have a healthful impact on your digestion and avoid those that cause you stomach troubles. Besides, taking care of what you put into your body, you also need to watch for signs that indicate the existence of gut problems.
In this article, we have gathered for you all the needed information to support your gut health in the best ways possible. Starting from the best foods to opt for, the warning signs to watch out for, to the other efficient ways you can improve your digestion and gut health.
Best Foods and Beverages for Your Digestive System
The process of what happens inside your gut and during digestion is quite complex, with several steps. To make sure nothing is going to obstruct this natural process, you got to be mindful of the food and drinks you put into your mouth. Needless to say, your gut health starts at the plate placed before you and what you choose to fill it with.
Let’s delve into the best foods and drinks to consider adding to your diet in order to reap the benefits of having a healthy gut.
Foods High in Fibre
If you happen to eat enough soluble fibre, your gut health will definitely thank you. When your body has enough fibre, the waste of your food happens to flow smoothing through the body, reducing the chances of getting constipation.
In other words, foods that are rich in fibre can work on cleaning your colon by encouraging bowel movements instead of keeping stool in your intestines for longer than you need. Thus, make sure you boost your fibre intake.
Polyphenols are found in an abundant amount of food and they are just what you need to keep your gut health intact. They have several benefits to your overall health, including reducing the risk of cancer, regulating blood sugar, enhancing heart health, and, definitely, boosting your gut health.
Polyphenols have antioxidant properties that lessen any inflammation in the digestive system. Foods that are rich in polyphenols are abundant, including berries, nuts, vegetables, and fruits. Coffee also happens to be a major source of polyphenols, so don’t stir away from consuming it. Among the many benefits that you can reap from dark chocolate is its richness with polyphenols.
Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
Fresh vegetables and fruits contribute to many health aspects and they are full of undeniable benefits. One of the many advantages that you will get from regularly consuming them is gut health with no digestive disorders. Besides, many vegetables and fruits are laden with antioxidants and polyphenols.
We recommend that you eat as many servings of fresh fruits and vegetables as you can on a daily basis. Yet, if you are looking to enhance your gut health, we suggest you focus on the following sources of polyphenols. Onions, spinach, olive, and beans are some of the best vegetables to consume for a healthy tummy. As for the fruits, focus on all kinds of berries, apples, grapes, and apricots.
Foods Rich in Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are a mixture of good bacteria and live bacteria inside the body. They are also found in a variety of food, acting as the source of growth of the microflora of human beings. Their main function is to alter the microorganisms that live within the digestive tract, enhancing your gut health and bettering its performance. One of the many ways you can take care of your gut health is by consuming food rich in those compound fibres that assist in the digestion process.
Both, prebiotics and probiotics, can be taken in the form of supplements to complement your intake. However, it is definitely better to consume foods that are rich in sources, so you can improve your overall health. There is a variety of food that you can make sure to consume everyday, including yogurt, garlic, onions, bananas, oats, apple cider vinegar, apple, cottage cheese, artichokes, and pickles.
Warning Signs of Digestive Problems
When your gut health is not in its best shape, it starts reflecting on your body. Digestive problems and gut disorders can take a great toll on your daily activities, given what it can do to your body. If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, it is time to get checked by your doctor.
When your body is having a hard time processing the food you just ate and is unable to eliminate the waste, constipation occurs, leaving you feeling discomfort and, sometimes, in pain. Constipation is a clear sign that your gut health is not where it needs to be.
Those who suffer from being constipated over a long period of time have their intestines produce harmful gut bacteria with high levels of methane. If you happen to realize you haven’t really visited the bathroom in a long time or the frequency of your trips is quite low, you should see a doctor. Prolonged constipation is a real sign of a declined gut health that needs to be reversed.
In many cases, heartburn can seem like a stroke or a heart attack, inducing intense emotions of fear inside one’s self. When your gut health is suffering, the acids that result from digested food travels all the way up, causing those discomforted chest pain that is heartburn. Anxiety, smoking, and certain medications can also contribute to causing heartburn.
However, since we are concerned with the problems caused by the gut problems, you need to learn about the foods that make you feel this way. Those whose gut health suffers and experience constant heartburns need to reduce foods and drinks that are highly acidic. This includes chocolates, coffee, tomatoes, spicy food, peppermint, alcohol, and high-fat food.
When your body suffers from digestive problems, you may face indigestion, where your stomach doesn’t properly break down your food. Such problems lead to heartburn and GERD, Gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is the actual process of stomach acid flowing back into your esophagus, and it resembles heartburn in so many ways.
The causes of indigestion are plentiful and while it is commonly caused by highly acidic food, certain lifestyles can lead to this problem. Overeating, eating too quickly, heavy smoking, and too much caffeine can make your gut health suffer in the long run.
On the spectrum of digestive problems, diarrhea sits across constipation, revealing serious problems with your gut health. Diarrhea can happen occasionally when you eat certain meals that make your stomach uncomfortable. However, when it persists, it is an alarming sign of some underlying issue that you need to get treatment for.
Weak Immune System
Your immunity is what keeps your body functioning normally and give a plenty of diseases a wide berth. When your immune system drops, you start catching cold and infections quite easily. You will also feel fatigued most of the time. While there are several reasons that can impact your immune system, your digestive system is one of them.
If your gut health is not in its best shape, you’ll start suffering from digestive problems that can eventually reduce your immunity. Also, when your immune system is already weak to start with, your digestion process would suffer. It’s a loop that you cannot break unless you treat your unhealthy gut and work on strengthening your immune system.
We all get stomach aches every once in a while and they suck. Definitely, not every ache your tummy feels is a sign of a problem with your digestive system. However, a persistent pain that keeps showing up every time you eat could be a sign of a serious issue with your gut health. So, listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something.
Fatigue that never seems to go away can negatively impact your daily life. Most of us lead busy lives and hectic schedules that can lead to chronic fatigue that is only treated by deep rest and a proper break. However, intestinal disturbances that go untreated can trigger symptoms of exhaustions and low energy levels.
Many studies were conducted and have proven that there is a strong connection between gut health and different skin conditions. Specific bacterias in the gut can cause more than a few inflammatory diseases that show on the skin in the form of psoriasis or acne. If you are noticing undesired breakouts on your skin surface, consider having your gut health checked.
Scientifically Supported Ways to Enhance Your Gut Health
Food may play the biggest role in affecting your gut health, but there are other factors that may contribute to either improving or worsening it. Your lifestyle can barge in and disrupt the function of your digestive system, including poor sleep, anxiety, and other bad habits. Here are some of the aspects you can have control over in order to aid your gut health in functioning better:
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep can disrupt your health and wellbeing in so many ways. It has been proven that those who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep over a prolonged period are more at risk of heart problems, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, and even brain disorders.
Sleep disturbances can even lead to chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalance, and increased stress. All which have a direct impact on your gut health, causing changes in the microbiome of the guts, inflammation, bloating, and other digestive disorders.
It was scientifically proven that sufficient sleep can lead your overall health to the great places. It also enhances your gut health, reducing the chances of any digestive disturbances, which may lead to GERD, causing heartburn and indigestion.
Lack of sleep can also mess up your appetite and affect your food choices. In the interest of saving your gut health and your wellbeing, make sure you get enough hours of deep sleep throughout the night. Go to bed at reasonable hours and adjust your sleep schedules to avoid undesired health issues.
Exercise on a Regular Basis
Working out regularly contributes to reducing the risk of gastronomical disorders like inflammation and bowel movements. It is said that exercise helps in making positive changes take place in your gastrointestinal tract by changing the composition of microbiota and enhancing the function of your metabolism.
Exercise also boosts the immune system, which has a direct connection to improving, not only your gut health, but your overall health. It is widely known and scientifically proven that active people have better gut health and wellbeing. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy a healthy gut, just moving your body for two to three times a week can go a long way in bettering your health.
Studies have proven that there is a direct link between stress and gut health. Anxiety is one of the main factors that contributes to aggravating the symptoms of acid reflux, bloating, and bowel problems, whether diarrhoea or constipation. The longer your stress period, the worse your gut health gets.
Surely, a lot of life situations can cause stress and severe anxiety. It is an inevitable part of life. While you can’t really have control over everything that is going on in your life, you can at least avoid situations that may trigger emotions of stress. The direct connection between your brain and stomach are not to be overlook. It is there, so be kind to yourself as much as possible to avoid disorders of any kind and not just digestive ones.
Vary the Types of Foods You Eat
Food is the number one player in the production of your gut microbiome. It is the main source where you get the needed nutrients for the good bacteria to grow inside your digestive tract and affect your gut health. Naturally, better food choices that include fresh vegetables and fruits promote the growth of your gut flora.
You probably have heard this in different aspects in your life, but we are going to say it anyway. Opt for whole foods that are laden with nutrients and essential vitamins. Healthy eating goes a long way in promoting your health and the quality of your life. On the other hand, reducing the consumption of deep fried food and ones with high fat content can worsen your gut condition.
It is also important to vary the types of food you put into your body. Sticking to one type of food or limited options can deprive your body from essential nutrients that may be only found in the types you shy away from. Make sure you craft a well-balanced diet that provides you with all the nutritious values you need.
Be Cautious with Antibiotics
Antibiotics are essential to take during a treatment course of a specific condition. However, many people tend to rely on antibiotics more than they actually need. Moreover, some even use ones that have a negative impact on the gut health, where they kill healthy gut bacteria of the course of usage.
While you may be taking antibiotics to cure an ailment, you can actually fall victim to another one related to gastrointestinal health. Misuse of antibiotics can encourage the recurrence of many infections. For that reason, you need to be cautious of the types and doses of antibiotics you take. Moreover, you should never take antibiotics without a prescription from a professional physician.
Smoking has always been linked to respiratory diseases and heart problems. Very few are those who know that smoking also has a direct connection to one’s gut health. Among the awful consequences of smoking come the repetitive occurrence of acid reflux, heart burn, peptic ulcers, and gallstones.
The destructive results don’t end here, in fact, smoking affect the gut microbiota and affect your intestinal pH levels. Many of your digestive system disorders can be easily cured by putting out your cigarette and making a firm decision to lead a healthier life. You may experience some stomach aches, gas trap, and constipation as a result of nicotine withdrawal. Yet, the outcome of quitting smoking is worth every second.
There is more to your gut health than just breaking down your food and digesting it. It is another part in your body that you need to nurture by picking up superfoods that support the health of your tummy and stir away from those that negatively affect it.