The quality of your health depends to a large extent on the health of your gut. A healthy gut helps improve digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. It minimizes risk of indigestion, gas, bloating and chronic inflammatory bowel disease. However, what many of us are not aware of is the role the gut plays in controlling the immune function and brain function. Your gut supports almost 80% of your immune system. Therefore, a healthy gut helps strengthen your body’s defense against harmful microorganisms. Furthermore, an unhealthy gut triggers emotional problems such as depression and anger.
Here Is What You Should Do To Improve Your Gut Health:
1. Fermented Foods:
To maintain the healthy functioning of your digestive system, add fermented foods to your daily diet. The lacto-fermented foods such as plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi contain active bacteria that help in maintaining the gastro-intestinal microflora. The beneficial bacteria help in suppressing growth of pathogenic bacteria and inhibit unwanted production of pro-inflammatory compounds that damage the healthy tissues.
2. Fiber Rich Foods:
Dietary fiber is a form of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. Fibers that dissolve in water are known as soluble fibers. Soluble fibers are essential for maintaining the colony of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The beneficial bacteria feed on the soluble fibers, which are also known as prebiotics. The best sources of soluble fibers are psyllium husk, oats, peas, beans, apples, barley, carrots and citrus fruits.
In addition to soluble fibers, to maintain your gut health you also need insoluble fibers. Digestive waste builds up in the colon and affects the health of your digestive system. Insoluble fiber, by supporting stool formation and easing bowel movement, eliminates the digestive waste from the colon. The best sources of insoluble fibers are whole wheat, nuts, beans and most vegetables.
Garlic is an excellent food for the gut health. It helps in maintaining the healthy gut flora. It is a prebiotic that helps the beneficial bacteria to survive in the gastrointestinal tract. Although garlic is known for its antibiotic effect, it works selectively, killing only the pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is known for its positive effect on the health of the digestive system. The raw vinegar contains pectin fiber, a prebiotic. Furthermore, it helps in converting resistant starch into butyric acid that supports the healthy balance of the microorganisms in the gut. However, you will not get these benefits by consuming pasteurized apple cider vinegar.
Studies have shown that regular physical activity is good for your gut health. It helps in diminishing risk of disorders of the digestive system such as gallstones, diverticular diseases, Crohn’s disease, bleeding in the digestive tract and colon cancer. Aerobic exercises help improve muscle contraction in the digestive tract. This helps food to move easily through the digestive tract, thereby reducing risk of constipation and other digestion disorders. Furthermore, exercise helps in reducing excess weight. Excess body weight increases risk of heartburn, constipation and other digestive problems.
6. Stress Management:
Stress, even for a short period, disrupts the balance of the gut microbiota. It stimulates and worsens digestive problems. Without managing stress, your nutritional efforts in improving your gut health will not work. Therefore, avoiding stressful situations or taking appropriate steps to minimize stress helps in improving the health of your digestive system. Practicing stress management techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga and muscle relaxation can help in improving your gut health.
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