A healthy gut plays a significant role in overall health and well-being. While it may be normal to have the occasional upset stomach when you eat something that doesn’t quite agree with you, ongoing digestive problems could point to an underlying health issue.
The gut, also called the gastrointestinal or digestive tract, typically refers to all the body parts involved in consuming and digesting food and eliminating waste. These parts are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines (colon), and rectum.
Importance of Gut Health
The gut lays the foundation for the overall well-being of the body. When it’s healthy, the bacteria are balanced, with more good than harmful bacteria. A healthy gut can absorb nutrients and eliminate waste efficiently.
An unhealthy gut can cause unpleasant symptoms such as:
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Excessive gas
Since the gut is responsible for removing waste and toxins from the body, it may be less effective at it if it’s unhealthy. It can cause other health problems like a compromised immune system and autoimmune disease, which will cause you to fall ill more frequently. People with unhealthy guts may also suffer from other ailments like chronic illnesses, diabetes, joint pain, and inflammation in the body.
How to Keep the Gut Healthy
Given the many consequences of poor gut health, it’s essential to ensure your gut is healthy. Some things you can do to keep your gut healthy include:
Eat a Healthy Diet
The foods you eat play an integral role in your gut health. Avoid foods that are processed and sugary. Processed foods may cause inflammation, and sugary foods can cause dysbiosis, an imbalance in microbes.
Foods that are good for the gut are high in fiber, like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
If you notice that you have gut issues, like constipation, bloating, or diarrhea, it’d be helpful to take care of your diet to figure out what foods trigger these issues. Typical food triggers may be dairy or gluten; if you have sensitivities to these foods, it’s best to avoid them.
Take a Creatine Supplement
Creatine powders are popular among gym goers and athletes, but it’s also an excellent supplement for gut health. Creatine is responsible for maintaining intestinal homeostasis. It means that it maintains a balance within the gut and creates a barrier that prevents a leaky gut.
Include Probiotics in Your Diet
Eating foods high in probiotics will increase the number of good bacteria in your gut. Good sources of probiotics include yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, sourdough bread, and kefir.
Taking a probiotic supplement is also a good idea, especially when taking antibiotic medication.
Eat Small Meals, Chew Your Food and Eat Slowly
Overeating can wreak havoc on your digestive system! Eating large meals can pressure the gut, making it difficult to digest food effectively. Eating smaller meals more frequently is much more gentle on the gut than eating one or two large meals during the day.
It’s also helpful to be mindful when you eat. As busy as life may be, wolfing down your food in a rush does nothing for your gut health. When you eat too quickly, you likely don’t chew properly and take in a lot of air that can cause bloating.
When eating, it’s important to ensure that you chew your food properly before swallowing it, as gulping down large chunks also strains the digestive tract as it’s more difficult to break down and digest.
Say no to soda and sugary drinks and opt for water instead. An individual’s water needs depend on several factors like their lifestyle and the climate but on average, try to drink about 6 – 8 glasses of water daily, as water is essential to gut health. Water aids digestion by breaking down, absorbing, and processing food and also helps eliminate waste.
Manage Your Stress
Stress, even over the short term, has been shown to disrupt the microorganisms in the gut, so when you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, it can cause problems.
If you notice that your gut issues are triggered by stress, look for ways to manage your stress. Popular calming activities include yoga and meditation, but you may also find that playing a sport, listening to music, or walking helps reduce stress.
Besides being an excellent stress reliever, exercising gets the blood pumping and flowing to the internal organs, which helps the gut to function more effectively. It also stimulates the colon leading to more regular bowel movements.
A healthy gut is essential to good overall health. When the gut is unhealthy, it can make your day-to-day life uncomfortable but may also lead to severe illnesses. Eating a healthy diet, taking supplements, managing stress, and exercising regularly contribute to a healthy gut.
Claudia Canu is a former junk food and sugar addict transformed into a Health Motivator with a master’s degree in Nutrition. She has created this website not only to share her “Journey to her Healthy Forties” but also to help other busy women with basic knowledge about nutrition and who don’t love cooking, to live a healthier life, and achieve big goals.