A healthy gut is such an important part of a healthy body! So much of your immune activity takes place in your intestines, and the food your body absorbs via your digestive system feeds every other system in your body. Simply put, good gut health will improve your overall health, and poor gut health will cause problems throughout every major system. If you want to know how to improve gut health, here are a few things you can try:
Mix it Up
Studies have proven that eating a wide range of foods is the best way to diversify your gut flora, and diverse gut flora is more effectively able to deal with a broader range of threats. Foods like nuts, seeds, proteins, veggies, fruits, and whole grains can encourage the population of gut flora in your intestines to grow. The more you have—both in terms of quantity and diversity—the better your body is able to break down the food you eat and eliminate the pathogens you end up consuming.
Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha all contain live bacteria cultures. This may sound weird, but you’ll find it’s actually excellent for your health. These cultures will flood your digestive system and act as reinforcements for the bacteria living there. A few servings of these fermented foods every week can have a noticeable effect on your gut bacteria and improve your intestinal health visibly.
Stock Up on Fiber
Fiber is one of the most critical nutrients for healthy gut flora. Those who want to know how to improve gut health will find that fiber is the food of your intestinal bacteria. Some types of fiber will nourish the bacteria and encourage its growth, essentially helping your body to reinforce itself so it can protect itself from disease. High-fiber foods like beans, lentils, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains will go a long way toward improving your intestinal health.
Prebiotics are foods that have complex carbs and fiber that your body is unable to break down for digestion. While that may sound like a bad thing, the truth is that the un-digestible fiber passes through your stomach and small intestines, then enters your large intestines where it encounters the gut bacteria. The gut bacteria actually feed on the fiber, and it causes them to multiply. Prebiotics can increase the growth of good bacteria, so they’re very important foods to add to your diet. Many fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are considered prebiotics.
Cut Back on Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame contain potent chemicals that can prove toxic to the bacteria living in your intestines. In one study, researchers found that feeding aspartame to rats led to higher instances of disease-causing bacteria rather than good bacteria. Another study found that these artificial sweeteners affected the gut microbiota and had a negative effect on blood sugar levels. While they may be lower in calories, the chemicals in these artificial sweeteners are worse for your health than a bit of sugar (in most cases).
Get Your Polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds that are found in foods like cocoa, dark chocolate, grapes, green tea, red wine, almonds, broccoli, blueberries, black tea, onions, and black beans. These plant compounds can help to improve your health, and they will be specifically beneficial to your gut bacteria thanks to the fact that they are hard for your body to break down. They are digested by your gut bacteria and work like both antioxidants and prebiotics, encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria!