The Importance of Gut Health

A healthy man and woman in their underwear, with illustrations of their gastrointestinal tract drawn on their stomachs

You know how uncomfortable you feel when you’re bloated or have indigestion. It affects your whole day. You feel sluggish, irritable, and unfocused. It’s evident that the importance of gut health goes far beyond feeling comfortable in your jeans. A healthy gut has been proven to be linked to proper hormonal balance, which, in turn, affects your weight, mood, sleep quality, and even your overall mental health. Here are some ways to help out your gut health.

Reduce gut inflammation

Hard to digest foods cause inflammation, an immune response brought on when the body thinks it’s under attack. Inflammation also happens when the body is attempting to repair damage or prevent illness. Foods that trigger this response include refined sugars, bad fats, alcohol, and sometimes dairy or gluten.

Think about that. When you eat calorie-dense junk food, your body treats it like a disease! The resulting inflammation reduces the surface area of the gastrointestinal tract, the place where nutrients are absorbed into the body. So if you’re not eating highly nutritious foods to begin with, then your immune system is making it difficult for your body to absorb what little nutrient value there is in that food, you’re going to run into some problems.

Avoid these inflammation-causing foods as much as possible, and pay attention to how you feel the next time you consume something high in gluten or dairy. Sensitivities to these foods can sometimes fly under the radar.

Eat for good bacteria

A diet is the foundation of a healthy body. Probiotics are good bacteria that help to create a healthy gut environment. Add probiotic-rich foods like bone broth, kombucha tea, yogurts, and other fermented foods to your menu to help populate your gut with healthy bacteria.

Those bacteria also have to eat! Prebiotics are non-digestible carbs that essentially feed the probiotic bacteria, and help them maintain your healthy gut environment. Prebiotic foods include bananas, asparagus, dandelion greens, and wheat flour or bran. They also include raw garlic, raw onions, and fresh leeks. Your breath might smell awful, but your gut will be happy!

Also make sure you’re eating your good fats, particularly Omega-3. Not only are good fats essential for hormone creation and function, Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. Get this fat from fish like wild salmon, sardines, and anchovies, as well as walnuts, spinach, and flax and chia seeds.