Did you know your body is the home of almost 40 trillion bacteria, most of which live in your gut? The bacterium found in your gut is vital for overall health, and is known as your gut microbiome. However certain types of bacteria can also contribute to disease and many factors – including what we eat – can affect the type of bacteria found in the digestive system.
There’s more to gut health than just an upset stomach – signs of an unhealthy gut can include fatigue, skin irritation and food intolerances. Whilst eating the right foods can have a big impact on your gut health, there are other factors to consider too – like lowering stress levels, getting enough sleep and eating slowly.
Here are some tips on how to help keep your gut happy.
Eat a varied and balanced diet
A varied diet can lead to a more diverse microbiome, which in turn leads to a healthy gut. This is because there are hundreds of types of bacteria in the intestines, all of which require different nutrients to grow.
Eating a range of vegetables, legumes, beans and fruit can help to grow certain types of bacteria because they are high in fibre. Some of the best foods for good gut bacteria include raspberries, green peas, broccoli, chickpeas, bananas and apples.
Research shows that fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha are rich in lactobacilli, a type of healthy bacteria. It’s proven that people that consume a lot yoghurt also have less enterobacteriaceae in their intestines, a type of bacteria associated with inflammation and various chronic conditions.
Whole grains are rich in fibre and nondigestible carbs. These carbs bypass the small intestine and make their way to the large intestine where they support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Studies suggest that whole grains promote the growth of good bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and Bacteroidetes. However it is worth noting that gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley and rye may have a negative impact on gut health, but this mostly applies to those with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten.
Lower stress levels
High stress levels can have a negative impact on your whole body, including your gut. Some ways to lower stress levels include meditating, spending time with friends, limiting alcohol intake and practicing yoga.
Get enough sleep
Poor quality sleep can negatively impact gut health, and poor gut health can then lead to more sleep issues. Science suggests we should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night for optimal health.
Thoroughly chewing your food and eating slower may improve digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut, as well as reducing the chances of developing obesity and diabetes. Practicing ‘mindful eating’ may help you slow down when eating, as it encourages you to eat without distraction, eat at regular times and places and listen to your body’s hunger signals.
As always, a balanced diet should always be the first priority when it comes to looking after your health. However at Time Health we know this isn’t always possible, which is why we offer a range of supplements to support health alongside a balanced diet. Try these products for supporting gut health: