Gut health is finally being taken seriously and it’s about time. Digestive health is an incredibly important, yet until recently, a commonly overlooked component of many healthy living programs. Did you know, that the human body is host to just short of 40 trillion bacteria, and the vast majority of said bacteria are located in the intestines. These are collectively referred to as your ‘gut microbiota’ and they play an essential role in your overall health and well-being. Collagen supplements, fermented foods, and bioactive yoghurts and beverages have all risen sharply in popularity, for good reason. They all help strengthen your gut microbiota by increasing the amount of amount of good bacteria and consequently improving gut function. When your gut health is out of whack, virtually all other aspects of your health and well-being will also be affected. Here’s a look at the 5 best ways to improve gut health.
Consume prebiotics – Prebiotics, not to be confused with probiotics, are foods that provide sustenance for the bacteria located within the gut. This is important because the more food these bacteria have available, the more healthy microbes will be generated. Prebiotics come in the form of complex carbohydrates and fibre, particularly from vegetables which are also loaded full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Good sources include raw leeks, raw jicama, raw garlic, raw asparagus, chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, bananas, barley and oats, apples, flaxseeds and seaweed.
Consume probiotics – Probiotics are actually foods and/or drinks that contain a specialist strain of bacteria proven to keep the gut and digestive system fit, healthy, and working as efficiently as possible. Probiotics not only help improve the overall composition of your existing gut microbiome, they also help to improve your overall health and well-being, including increasing your metabolism and improving your body's ability to burn fat. Probiotics basically help to strengthen existing healthy bacteria in the gut, and ensure that everything is running as it should be. Some great probiotic foods include yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso, pickles, and some cheeses that identify live or active food cultures on the labels.
Try consuming more fermented foods – Although referring to these foods as ‘fermented’ may not make them sound terribly appetizing, in reality some of the world’s most popular foods are fermented and many of them were listed above. Foods such as sauerkraut, and Kimchi are consumed in massive quantities around the world. As well as tasting delicious, they also do wonders for the gut. Pickled foods should be on your menu as well - Miso, Kefir, Kombucha, and natural yoghurts are all great examples of delicious-tasting fermented foods that not only strengthen the digestive system and promote optimal gut health, but they also help give a boost to the immune system as well.
Consume collagen supplements – Collagen is the most prevalent protein in the human body, and fortunately for us, it is also available in supplement form. Poor gut health has been widely linked to a whole variety of medical conditions and ailments, some of which could potentially be deadly. The good news is that collagen has been found to provide substantial benefit to our guts and digestive systems in general. Collagen helps to strengthen the gut lining, and helps to both heal and seal it, preventing conditions such as leaky gut, which can lead to inflammation and loss of nutrients. Collagen supplements are an easy way to ensure optimal gut health.
Avoid diet sodas – Diet beverages are marketed as being healthy because they have the word ‘diet’ in them, but in reality they are anything but. Diet sodas are free from sugar, but what they do contain instead is much worse. They are sweetened with artificial chemicals such as aspartame, which has been linked to, amongst other things: cancer, ADHD, migraines, depression, metabolic syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and dementia. Anything else? Oh yes, these awful chemical sweeteners also destroy healthy gut bacteria. For sweetness, either go with pure stevia, or natural honey. Remember, natural is always best.