Did you know that the gut is often called the “second brain?” That’s because it plays a major role in overall health. Let’s look at 10 ways to improve gut health so you can feel better overall and get your microbiome in the shape it should be.
The Gut as Our Second Brain
So why is gut health important? The gut is often at the top of our minds, and very much linked to our feelings. This is one reason our gut has been called a “second brain”. But our emotional life isn’t the only thing at stake when we don’t give proper attention to our body’s microflora. When you consider all the microorganisms that live inside us, it may not be surprising that scientists say that we are more “other” than ourselves. In other words, when you add up all the foreign, living material inside us, it is more than that attached to our own DNA. This complex web is not just attached to our emotions and our “real” brain through the vagus nerve. It is no wonder then that people with mental diseases, including depression, autism, and schizophrenia also have stomach problems.
Your Gut Feeling Should be to Take Care of Your Gut
The gut has been called “the pit of immunity”. It was the famous Hippocrates, father of the Hippocratic oath, “Do no harm”, that said, “All disease begins in the gut”. Today, with the myriad of diseases threatening to undo society, it’s more important than ever to understand how you can keep all the “pieces” of your gut working together to achieve a balance so that pathogens are kept in check and you can live the vital life you were meant to live.
Factors to Consider if You’re Serious About a Healthy Gut
So what affects gut health and how does a person’s gut turn into a poor condition?
It shouldn’t be a surprise that “You are what you eat” would describe the final result of a rich probiotic-filled diet or a poor, processed food diet. But one should also consider the surroundings that the guy is being placed in. Is high stress reducing proper blood flow to your microbiome? In like manner, exercise, as well as tobacco and alcohol use will either increase or decrease the oxygen and nutrients your gut needs to be healthy. Also, consider your exposure to pathogens. If your defenses are down your gut will only get worse if you are exposed to sick people or don’t practice good hygiene. Finally, be careful about your use of antibiotics. Some doctors may be overly fearful of something like an MRSA infection should you need to be in the hospital for some time. So just be aware that strong antibiotics or antibiotics taken over a long period can do a lot of damage to the gut that may take some time and effort to recover from.
Follow These Top 10 Tips to Improve Gut Health
So, what are some ways to improve gut health? Here are our top ten tips:
Increase fiber in your diet
Fiber is essential for gut health, as it provides food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. Try incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, especially gluten-free ones, into your diet.
Eat less sugar and sweeteners
Sugar feeds bad bacteria and can lead to imbalances in the gut microbiome, including the creation of an overly acidic environment. Therefore, it’s best to limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help restore balance to the gut microbiome. Look for products that contain live and active cultures of beneficial bacteria, and try to take a variety that has several strains that will survive in large numbers.
Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, and it can also help improve gut health. When you sleep, your body is able to repair and heal itself, while removing damaged cells that can create a dysbiotic environment in your gut.
Control your stress levels
Stress can have a negative impact on gut health, so it’s important to find ways to manage stress in your life. Exercise, meditation, and deep breathing are all great ways to reduce stress levels.
Exercise has many benefits for overall health, including gut health. Physical activity can help increase the number of good bacteria in the gut as it improves blood flow and helps oxygen levels.
Limit your alcohol intake
Too much alcohol can damage the gut microbiome and lead to imbalances. It’s best to limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.
Maintain a regular eating schedule
Eating on a regular schedule can help improve gut health. When you eat, your body produces stomach acid and digestive enzymes that help break down food.
Drink plenty of water
Water is essential for gut health, as it helps keep things moving along in the digestive system. Be sure to drink eight glasses of water per day.
Fermented foods to improve gut health
Foods that have been fermented, such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut contain live bacteria. These foods are good for gut health because they help to maintain the microbiome in balance. Try making them yourself to keep them organic or to avoid unwanted ingredients. Beet kvass is a good start as a go-to beverage that you can take on the run.
Summing Up: Take Care of Both of Your Brains
It’s no joke that gut health is strongly correlated with overall health. We see example after example of those who neglected their health quickly declining in their standard of living or even passing on before their time. One such example is Jordan Rubin, the founder of Garden of Life products. As he reversed the terrible disease that took away his athletic career, even threatening his very life, he discovered that the literal “dirt” he was eating was nothing new. In the ancient world, people maintained their health by leading the sort of lives that were close to the land and good for the gut. While you may not need to own a goat or literally eat the dirt from your front yard to have a strong gut and vibrant health, we do recommend you start with these ways to improve gut health. It’s the “smart” thing to do, for both your first and your second brain.