Gut health is one of the most popular topics in the health world at the moment. It’s safe to say that most of the American population needs to increase alkalinity and fix their gut, but where do you start? How do you increase beneficial gut bacteria?
While it’s always recommended to make diet and lifestyle changes, there are other ways to promote healthy gut flora and improve digestion. A healthy digestive system can improve immune function, cognitive function, and your ability to have regular bowel movements. Implement the following strategies into your life to benefit your digestive system.
Consume Soluble And Insoluble Fiber
Nutritionists or doctors always suggest that people include more fiber in their diet. A high-fiber diet does help to keep things moving through the digestive tract. This can help ward off digestive complications like constipation, hemorrhoids, or diverticulitis. The fiber recommendation is a little too general, though. You need to consume both soluble and insoluble fiber. The former draws in water to prevent watery stools, while the latter isn’t digested by the body and adds bulk to stools. Great sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, nuts, legumes, and seeds, and great sources of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, whole grains, and vegetables.
Reduce Your Gluten Intake
Gluten didn’t used to be an issue, but wheat wasn’t hybridized or grown with genetically modified organisms a couple generations ago either. Nowadays, wheat has completely different proteins, which many people cannot tolerate. A lot of people develop inflamed or weakened gut lining after consuming gluten. There are many gluten-free alternatives, so try experimenting with them in your diet.
Probiotics are present in the digestive tract and they work to keep the body healthy, enhancing nutrient absorption and immune function. Probiotics may even help to break down lactose and remedy symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These beneficial bacteria can become overwhelmed by unhealthy foods and lifestyle choices, leading to the development of excess bad bacteria in the gut. Start consuming probiotics in the form of fermented vegetables, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, or miso on a daily basis. You also need to consume prebiotics to feed the probiotics. Great prebiotic foods include bananas, onions, legumes, oats, fruits, and a variety of whole grains.
Hydrate With Water
The more water you drink, the healthier your digestive system will be. To the recommendation above, water helps maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. It also works to clean out any built-up waste in the digestive tract. The ideal recommendation for optimal hydration is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. If you weight 150 pounds and divide that by two to get 75, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day.
Get More Sleep
This seems like an odd tip in regards to improving gut health, but the constant communication between the gut and the brain can affect your sleep. If your microbiome (the microorganisms that live in your digestive system) is out of balance, it cannot produce dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, all of which are neurotransmitters that regulate mood and sleep. When your gut isn’t healthy, your sleep can suffer. It’s difficult to get the amount of sleep we need, but it is a health priority!
When you harbor a lot of stress, you can experience a variety of physical and emotional responses. From sleep troubles to more serious digestive disorders, stress can do a lot of damage to the body. Studies have shown that high cortisol levels can increase your risk of gut-related conditions, including IBS, GERD, and Crohn’s disease. There are numerous ways to reduces stress, but we recommend meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, frequent massages, breathing exercises, or walking in nature.