Try These 9 Things For Better Gut Health

We all know how uncomfortable it can be to feel bloated, constipated, or have the occasional bout of diarrhea.

You may not realize it, but your daily diet and lifestyle habits can affect your digestive system. If you spend too much time experiencing bowel discomfort, do an honest assessment of what you eat and how you spend your time to see if your tendencies may be negatively impacting your gut.

“Many people don’t realize that certain nutrient-dense foods are better for the digestive tract and that so-called ‘junk foods’ can trigger digestive issues,” explains Oliver Felibrico, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. “Also, people know that healthy lifestyle habits – like exercising regularly and getting enough sleep – are good for them, but many people don’t realize that healthy habits help promote good digestion and that the slack in these areas can contribute to poor gut health.”

Your digestive tract is full of bacteria and other microscopic flora. The “good” microbes facilitate the digestive process. If your gut is overrun with “bad” flora, you may experience discomfort or other problems. Try these ideas for establishing or maintaining ideal levels of “good” gut flora:

Reduce sugar

Eating too many sweets can shift the balance of gut flora towards the “bad” microbes, making you more likely to have gas, bloating, or other digestive issues. Artificial sweeteners are also linked to bloating and negative changes in gut flora.

Limit fried foods

Choose baked rather than fried foods whenever possible. Fried foods promote the growth of “bad” gut flora and discourage the growth of “good” microbes.

Consume probiotics

Eating foods that contain live “good” bacteria, called probiotics, can reduce gut inflammation and digestive problems. After you consume probiotics, they stay in your gut and promote the growth of “good” gut flora. They are found in some yogurts, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented foods.

Eat more fiber

Most Americans eat half the fiber recommended, so if you’re like everyone else, you’re probably not getting enough. “Fiber helps you have a regular bowel movement, so eating more can help you avoid constipation. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds,” explains Dr. Felibrico If you’re not getting a lot of fiber now, increase the amount you eat slowly because increasing the fiber content of your diet in larger increments can temporarily cause bloating and gas.

Eat a plant-based diet

Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and other plant-based foods naturally promotes gut health, due to their fiber content. They also promote the proliferation of “good” intestinal flora, while red meat can help the “bad” intestinal flora to develop. Eliminating red meat from your diet by eating more plant-based foods can encourage “good” microbes to thrive and help reduce gut inflammation, making digestion easier.

Manage stress levels

Stress and anxiety can make it harder for your digestive tract to work efficiently, which can lead to heartburn, bloating, or other issues. Whenever possible, adopt healthy habits that help you reduce stress, including exercise, deep breathing, or meditation.

Exercise more

People who exercise regularly are more likely to manage their weight and avoid obesity, which is linked to poor gut health. Thinking and eating like an athlete can help improve your gut microbiome; some research has found that athletes have a more diverse gut flora, which can help aid digestion.

sleep more

Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night can help control your weight, and being well rested helps the “good” gut flora to grow.

Stop smoking

Smoking is an unhealthy habit that isn’t just bad for your lungs: people who smoke alter the proportion of gut flora in their digestive tract, shifting the balance towards the “bad” microbes. Take steps to quit smoking for your overall health and gut health.

Next steps and resources:

The material provided by HealthU is intended to be used for general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your doctor for individual care.

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