5 Tips to Getting and Maintaining a Healthy Gut Microbiome
Research indicates that the health of your gut microbiome can directly impact your health, wellbeing, and risk for developing many serious and potentially debilitating chronic medical conditions.
1. Eat a Probiotic-Rich Diet
Fiber is perhaps the best friend of a healthy gut. It offers carbohydrates that your body cannot digest but hat makes an excellent food source for the beneficial probiotic bacteria that you want to encourage. It also helps encourage a healthy gut lining and may make gut bacteria more resistant to changing temperatures and environments.
In addition to traditional fiber-rich foods like beans and vegetables, try adding whole grains, bananas, chicory, and onions to your diet for their high levels of fructans.2. Keep Sweeteners to a Minimum
While you want to increase fiber and overall carbohydrates, you'll want to keep added sugars and artificial sweeteners to a minimum. Researchers are finding that these can lead to imbalances within the gut microbiome in animal studies, which may translate to higher increases of metabolic diseases in people.
Excess sweeteners can also negatively impact your blood glucose levels. This is linked to higher rates of disease and lower levels of and diversity within gut bacteria profiles.
Don't worry too much about the sugars that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables. Instead, aim to keep added sweeteners to a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends keeping added sugars to less than about six teaspoons (or around 100 calories) per day for women and nine teaspoons (150 calories) per day for men.3. Increase Exercise
Exercise improves your circulation and helps encourage lean muscle mass and definition. Both of those help the digestive system perform at its best. It also can help you control your weight, which can impact gut health and bacterial diversity.
You don't have to suddenly transform into an uber athlete to see results. Take up walking during your lunch break, or try the new yoga class at the local recreation center to ease into exercising.
No matter what activities you decide on, aim to get at least the recommended 150 hours of moderate to intense exercise each week. Breaking that up into about 30 minutes of exercise on most days make sit a manageable task. If that still seems like a lot, break it into smaller ten-minute chunks spread throughout each day to start out. Strength training exercises are also recommended for the most health benefits.4. Reduce Stress
That yoga class may give your gut health a boost beyond adding exercise to your day. Stress has been linked to less diversity among gut bacteria as well as disruptions in digestive functions.
Stress isn't purely psychological either. Environmental factors like extreme temperatures and sleep deprivation can also stress out your digestive system. Encourage a healthy gut by reducing your exposure and resistance to stressors.
Be proactive and use management strategies like meditation, progressive relaxation, or deep breathing exercises to minimize the effects. Taking care of yourself by eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest can also help.5. Stay Hydrated
Increasing your water consumption is a simple and easy way to increase your gut (and overall) health. While the advice has long been eight glasses of water a day, you actually need about twice that much fluid each day. Of course, some of that comes from water in the foods you eat.
Dehydration affects your body in many negative ways, going far beyond gut health. It leads to listlessness and fatigue, confusion and memory loss, and can cause problems with organ functions.
A quick way to check if you are drinking enough water is to check the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow or clear. Anything darker and you may need to up your water intake.Reap the Benefits of a Healthy Gut
There are many benefits to fostering a healthy gut. It is linked to a lower incidence of chronic disease and healthier weight levels. It also appears to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system, which may help you fight off illnesses. Take these simple steps toward a healthier gut microbiome today to see how it affects your life.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Devoto is an avid outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer. He enjoys writing about sustainability, eco friendly behaviors and local travel. He has traveled all over the world but has taken a particular interest in our great National Parks.