Over the past few days, I have discussed what an unhealthy gut looks like and how your gut affects your overall health. Today, I’m going to tell you how you can support your gut so that you can improve your own gut health and bring your body back into balance.
1. Prioritise whole foods in your diet
You’ve heard the term ‘eat the rainbow’. This includes carbs, fats and protein, as well as foods rich in vitamins and minerals. By eating whole grains, you increase your fibre and carbs. These carbs move to your large intestine or colon, and the gut microbiome feast on them, promoting the growth of good bacteria.
2. Include probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet
Prebiotic foods promote the natural bacteria in your gut. The fibre which these foods consist of is great for gut health because it feeds good bacteria and allows them to thrive. This is why eating fruit and vegetables is essential, because many of them are considered probiotics.
3. Eat fermented foods
Fermenting involves bacteria or yeast, converting sugars in food to organic acids. Foods that have been altered by microbes produce good bacteria and is great for your overall health. Eating foods rich in bacterial lactobacilli (yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and tempeh) are very pro gut bacteria and we want to increase lactobacilli in our gut for this very reason.
4. Avoid foods you’re sensitive to
It probably goes without saying, but if you know or suspect that you’re sensitive to a certain food, avoid it. By eating foods we’re sensitive to, we’re allowing inflammation in our gut to appear while our bodies decide how best to deal with the toxic food you’ve just given it. If you’re unsure of what it could be, an elimination diet might be your best bet.
5. Make time for daily movement
Aerobic exercise can increase the amount of bacteria in your gut and contribute to overall bacterial diversity. The fitter you are, the more diverse your microbiome is. If you don’t exercise now, start small by adding a few walks to your week and then work your way up to a regular exercise routine.
6. Keep stress at a minimum
Stress attacks your gut, with chronic stress causing gut dysbiosis. Including self care strategies into your day to help keep stress at a minimum. Magnesium baths, journaling, yoga, meditation, exercise and getting a good sleep are my favourite de-stressors.
7. Avoid sugar, particularly artificial sweeteners
Bad bacteria feeds off sugar, allowing it to live and thrive within the gut. By cutting your sugar intake, including fructose, low-nutrient carbohydrates, conventional dairy and alcohol, we are able to stop bad bacteria in its tracks. Digesting artificial sweeteners can change the gut microbiome and cause weight gain, insulin response and increase inflammatory bacteria in the gut.
8. Increase your fibre
Eating leafy greens, nuts and root vegetables is an important part of your day. Fibre is the foundation of your gut health and allows for your overall health to build on. The more fibre you eat, the better your gut will be and the more you can improve your gut health. Try to diversify your diet to become more plant based by adding a few meat-free days to your week.
9. Lower your dairy
Dairy can cause gut issues for a lot of people. Bloating, diarrhea, gas and pain are just the start for those with lactose intolerance.