Improve Gut Health With Simple Lifestyle Habits | Local News

Maintaining a healthy digestive system, or gut, could be the key to better health. When healthy, the gut absorbs nutrients from food, removes waste, communicates with the brain, and supports a healthy immune and nervous system. If the gut is unhealthy, it can cause digestive diseases that affect 60 to 70 million Americans according to the National Institute of Health.

Signs of an unhealthy gut include upset stomach, sudden weight gain or loss without lifestyle changes, disturbed sleep, and constant fatigue. If left untreated, an unhealthy gut can lead to chronic conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Optimal gut health is achieved when the bacteria inside the gastrointestinal tract, made up of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines, work together without causing discomfort.

“The topic of gut health is one that many people find confusing and intimidating,” said Dr. Carl Foulks Jr., board-certified gastroenterologist. “Fortunately, maintaining a healthy gut is simple and doable with good lifestyle choices.”

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Dr. Foulks recommends these lifestyle habits to maintain a healthy gut:

Consume probiotics: Eat probiotics from naturally fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut to help create a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

Eat well: Avoid highly processed foods and eat more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and fiber like apples, broccoli, salmon and quinoa.

Regular exercise: Regular exercise can help improve gut health by increasing beneficial microbial species and helping to reduce stress.

Hydrate: Drinking enough water is a simple way to improve gut health and prevent constipation.

Reduce stress: Try walking, meditating, and spending time with loved ones to help reduce stress and decrease inflammation in the gut.

“You can have lasting effects on your lifespan by incorporating these gut-healthy behaviors into your daily routine. If worrying issues persist, it may be time to see a doctor,” Foulks said.

For more information on how to maintain a healthy gut or to find a gastroenterologist, visit

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