As we continue to learn the importance of optimal gut health (especially the connection it has to the rest of the body), correcting & protecting our own is more important than ever!
But what does it actually mean?
In general, when you hear people talking about optimal “gut health”, they're referring to:
A well-intact intestinal lining, free of inflammation or permeability (Leaky Gut).
A well-balanced gut microbiome with a healthy ratio of GOOD intestinal bacteria to BAD intestinal bacteria.
Sufficient stomach acid production for proper digestibility & absorption of food.
What Promotes a Healthy Gut?
There are several factors that go into keeping the gut healthy.
Lifestyle habits involved in protecting our gut health include things like:
getting adequate sleep
properly managing stress
limiting the use of alcohol & certain medications (especially antibiotics)
thoroughly chewing food
eating in a relaxed state
avoiding food allergens
drinking enough water
eating around ~25 grams of fiber per day
Equally, if not more, important are our DIETARY HABITS which are directly involved in both building and supporting the healthy gut we need for nearly all body functions!
For our gastrointestinal (gut) specifically, this means eating less heavily processed foods such as those high in processed sugar and inflammatory oils, and eating more foods that:
FEED existing good bacteria with pre-biotics
REPOPULATE lost healthy bacteria with probiotics
REPAIR the gut with healing, anti-inflammatory foods
And we need plenty of all three.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that FEED the existing good bacteria in our gut. They include high-fiber foods such as:
Probiotics are living microorganisms (or live cultures) found in fermented foods/drinks that ADD additional good bacteria to our gut. They include foods such as:
Active/live culture yogurts
There are other nutrient-rich foods and drinks which specifically play a helpful role in REPAIRING the intestinal wall and reducing inflammation. These include things like:
While it's a great idea to include more gut-healthy goods into your everyday diet, it's not uncommon for many to need additional help when working to heal and promote a healthy gut microbiome, digestive tract, and more.
If you suspect any conditions such as SIBO (small-intestinal bacteria overgrowth), Leaky Gut, candida overgrowth, etc. to be at play, it's always recommended to work with a practitioner or physician you trust for proper testing and protocols.