Trillions of bacteria live in the gastrointestinal tract or gut that helps the body process food. These organisms also have another important job: maintaining the homeostasis and overall health of your body1.
Having the right balance of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut is the key to having a healthy gastrointestinal system and body. As such, it is crucial that you maintain this status and even improve it.
If you want to know how to improve gut health and maintain a balanced microbiome to function more efficiently and feel better inside and out, start by making these simple changes in your lifestyle:
Probiotics refer to the yeasts and live bacteria that are good for your gastrointestinal tract. The health benefits of probiotics include2: Treating and preventing constipation
Some of the foods rich in probiotics are3:
Taking probiotic supplements can also support your diet and improve your gut health.
Probiotics feed on prebiotics, or carbohydrates that are non-digestible. When prebiotics are in your gut, they encourage more good bacteria in the microbiome4.
Examples of prebiotic-rich foods are:
Fiber helps keep food moving through your gastrointestinal tract. A high-fiber diet also prevents and treats different digestive problems, such as constipation and hemorrhoids5.
To get the most from this nutrient, eat both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber helps the body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat6.
Foods rich in this nutrient include7:
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps draw water into and add volume to your stools8. The most common sources of this nutrient are9:
A diet rich in sugar and artificial sweeteners may lead to gut dysbiosis10, a condition pertaining to an imbalance of gut microbes.
This imbalance in the microbiome can affect various body functions and the person’s behavior.
A study on rats has shown examples of sugars and sweeteners that are unhealthy for the gastrointestinal system, namely11:
Honey is a healthier alternative to sugars and sweeteners12. Use it for sweetening your food and beverages
A diet high in fatty foods has been associated with the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut13.
Lean cuts of meats are better for your gastrointestinal and overall health. Examples of these are:
However, limit your portion sizes and eat more foods that promote healthy gut flora such as fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Drinking too much alcohol is never good for your body. It can also have negative effects on your gut health17.
Overindulging in alcohol affects your gut in the following ways18:
Healthy beverages you should try to consume more of are19:
Stress affects various aspects of your well-being, including gut health. It can affect the important probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus in your microbiome20.
This, in turn, can increase your risk for inflammatory conditions.
The top stressors that affect gut health are21:
You can manage stress more effectively by learning and practicing22:
These lifestyle changes are not hard to do. If you need more reasons to follow them, keep in mind that your overall wellness will also improve as you enhance and maintain your gut health.
Read more about the importance of keeping your gastrointestinal tract in good condition by visiting our Gut Health page.