More and more we are seeing a trend towards being in tune with our bodies, but one aspect that still falls by the wayside is gut health. While eating healthily and staying active might seem like enough to ensure your insides are working the way they should, in fact, taking care of your gut often takes more effort — but that effort is well worth it.
The bacteria in your guts is vital for digesting food, developing your immune system and protecting you from harmful, bad bacteria you come in contact with. A healthy gut performs all these functions, and is also now being linked to lower rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and other harmful medical conditions. But how exactly do you maintain the health of your gut? Read on for three easy ways to ensure your GI tract is working the way it should.
Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods
Gut health is supported by a varied diet rich in prebiotic foods like vegetables, fruits and probiotic foods like yogurt, cheese and sauerkraut. The prebiotic fiber in vegetables and fruits encourages the growth of healthy bacteria, and the probiotic foods like yogurt helps maintain a healthy microbiome, aka all the genes of bacteria, fungi and viruses throughout the body, the majority of which are in the gut. Studies have shown that a healthy gut microbiome can affect everything from stress levels and mental health issues to inflammation.
Limit junk food consumption
Studies have shown that sudden changes to your diet can affect your gut microbiome, suppressing good bacteria and even increasing bad bacteria. Researchers are now finding that changing the diversity of your gut bacteria for the worse is linked to conditions like depression, allergies and even cancer. This is not to say that you should never indulge again — rather, ensure that junk food is the occasional treat in a healthy diet. This helps to ensure that your gut health returns to normal after ingesting a junky meal.
Limit your usage of antibiotics
Reducing our dependence on antibiotics has been gaining traction in the medical world as more and more people become resistant to traditional antibiotics. But limiting your intake of antibiotics could also have a positive effect on your gut health. Antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria in the gut, wreaking havoc on your system. Some conditions, like urinary tract infections, do require antibiotics, so to mitigate the negative effects, make sure to eat plenty of foods mentioned above to restore your gut bacteria.
While more research needs to be done about the gut microbiome, it's safe to say that getting enough prebiotic and probiotic foods and limiting your intake of junk food in your diet is key to a happy, healthy gut — and possibly, a happier, healthier life.