Believe it or not, your digestive system does more than just transport food from your mouth to your stomach and intestines to process. A healthy digestive system is linked to your physical health, mental health, immune health, and more, which is why it’s very important to take care of your gut health. So, let’s talk about what gut health is, why it’s important, and what you can do to promote healthy digestion.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
Gut health is an informal way to refer to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. The gastrointestinal tract has trillions of healthy bacteria that help your body process food and maintain homeostasis (balance of the body). The makeup of all these bacteria, called the microbiome, is correlated with overall health. Some types of bacteria fight inflammation, while others promote it, so maintaining a balance between these different types of bacteria is not only key to gut health but to preventing both the spread of inflammation to other parts of the body and lapses in immunity. Gut health affects your mental health as well; while probiotics research is still in its early stages, there is growing evidence that your gut microbiome can affect neurotransmitters in your brain and vice versa.
What Affects Gut Health?
Your diet plays a big role in the makeup of bacteria in your gut. Your environment plays a role as well; some bacteria help strengthen your microbiome. However, environmental and emotional stress can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut, and some antibiotics and other medications kill gut bacteria of all kinds. So, it is important to keep these factors in check.
5 Ways to Promote Gut Health
- Eat the right foods. A balanced diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains provides fiber that helps support good bacteria in the gut. Foods like asparagus, bananas, apples, dandelion greens, onions, barley, and oats have prebiotic fibers that provide food for the good bacteria in your gut. Foods like fermented vegetables, yogurt, miso, kombucha, and tempeh add probiotic bacteria to the gut.
- Supplement with pre- and probiotics. If you’re not getting enough pre- and probiotics from your diet, you can take supplements like Optiflora® Prebiotic Complex and Optiflora® DI. They are designed to work together to promote comprehensive digestive and immune support.*
- Cut down on sugar and sweeteners. Having a lot of sugar and artificial sweeteners in your diet can cause imbalance in your microbiome.
- Manage your stress. Psychological and environmental stress can negatively affect your gut health, so it’s a good idea to practice stress management techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation.
- Get plenty of sleep. Getting enough sleep (at least 8 hours a day) can improve your mood, cognitive function, and gut health.
At the end of the day, just go with your gut—the best thing you can do to support your gut health is to live healthy in every way!
|*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.