You may be living under an illusion that your gut is perfectly healthy, since you might not be having IBS, heartburns, acid reflux or bloating; however, the fact is, the symptoms of unhealthy gut are often underlying and many at times, they manifest themselves in other parts of the body, which causes some confusion as to where the problem is. Since the body works like an integrated ecosystem, the signs and symptoms in other body parts generally depict the malfunctioning of the entire ecosystem of the body.
Why is the Gut Health So Relevant?
Our gut is the home to a number of good bacteria also known as probiotics. In fact, our bowel alone stores up to 100 trillion microorganisms influencing the functioning of the body. The beneficial probiotics in the body are responsible for the good health of not only our gut, but also the entire body. These probiotics help the body to:
- Digest food.
- Absorb the nutrients.
- Breaking down of medications.
- Kill the harmful bacteria that causes number of diseases.
How to Improve Gut Health Naturally?
9 Proven Ways to a Healthy Gut:
Eat Foods Rich in Probiotics
People in ancient times, used to consume fermented probiotic food typically rich in good bacteria to heal their gut and regulate their digestion properly. For instance, kimchi, tempeh, natural yoghurt, and apple cider vinegar are some of the fermented food products, which help in improving the gut health naturally.
Do not miss out on prebiotics which increase the effectiveness of your fermented probiotic foods. Prebiotics are the non- digestible carbohydrate products, which feed probiotics, encouraging them to grow and multiply in the gut. So, it is important to include prebiotics in your diet. Foods specifically rich in prebiotics are bananas, garlic, onions, tomatoes and grains.
Cut Down on Intake of Sugar and Processed Food Items
The bad bacteria in the gut multiply and strengthen when the body breaks down sugar and processed food items like cookies, chips, pastries and fried items. This claim is backed by research done in 2010 when a group of researchers compared Italian children, who were on a very high fat, sugar and processed food diet, to African children who maintained a diet consisting of high fiber, and green plant foods. It was found that the African students had beneficial number of probiotics in their gut when compared to Italian children.
Cutting down of meat (especially beef) from diet holds numerous benefits and it is one of the best natural ways to improve gut health. From lowering the cholesterol levels, shedding extra fat of the body, improving the mood and preventing risks of various heart diseases and diabetes, going on a plant based diet is a very beneficial step in gut nourishing.
A research also suggests that going particularly on a vegetarian diet can improve the composition of the gut microbiome for better purposes. Moreover, a study conducted in 2014; and also published in journal Nature, states that microbiome of gut changes drastically within four days of switching from an animal based or non-vegetarian diet to a vegetarian diet. Most importantly, the microbiota of the omnivorous species produces a chemical, which is associated with heart disease, inflammation and other intestinal diseases.
As stress remains an unavoidable consequence in human life, the way we manage our stress level matters. The gut is most vulnerable to stress levels and which, if affected, can lead to malfunctioning of gastric secretion, sensitivity, motility of gut, flow of blood and much more.
Stress hormones also affect the gut health to the extent when it intercepts the secretion of hormones and other neurochemicals that affect the working of brain to reduce appetite. Shifts seen in the gut microflora initiated by stress levels can leave one more vulnerable to infection. Moreover, long-term stress levels also lead to gastroesophageal reflux or GERD disease, stomach ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other food allergies. So, to deal with stress, it is important to exercise, meditate, go for hydrotherapy, and use calming essential oils.
Don't You Miss on Exercise
Exercise holds a key role in the health of gut flora. It not only enhances the diversity of gut species, but it also plays a crucial role in reversing the microbiota changes, which are often associated with an obese person. Exercise brings down the stress levels and eventually helps in naturally building better gut health.
A new study shows that exercise in the early years, or to be more precise in "young days," holds a significant impact on the gut microbiome. Since the intestinal bacterial cycles are influenced by your own behavior, exercising helps a lot in healing the gut bacteria. So you should, run, swim, squat etc. to improve your gut health naturally.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep disturbances and irregular sleeping patterns negatively affects the intestinal microbiota, as reported by a study published in 2014. In fact, it leads to many inflammatory diseases. Also, studies have shown that disordered sleeping or breathing problems while one is awake seriously disrupts the health of microbiome.
Note that the sleep and gut health connection is a "two way street." Scientists thoroughly believe that bugs in gut affect sleep in numerous ways. So, a proper, adequate sound sleep is very important to maintain a healthy gut.
Adequate ventilation is necessary, so go ahead and open the windows. According to a survey result, an average human being spends approximately 90% of the time indoors. Since fresh air is very important for the health of body and mind, spending time outside in fresh air is crucial. A study conducted in 2012, suggests that opening of windows and letting the fresh air in holds lot of importance. The researchers also found that it also improves the health of the microbes at home, which eventually benefits the body microbes and naturally improves your gut health.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Also, lighten up your mood by laughing out loud. Laughter is the best medicine, we all know that, but this is also backed by a scientific study which found that when patients suffering from atopic dermatitis, after watching comedy movies, had shown remarkable improvement in their gut tract within one week. Gut of these patients had turned healthier and they were coming on par with healthy individuals.