Improving Gut Health Without Supplements
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard about “gut health” being the new frontier for health. While it sounds complex, it is mainly just the term to describe the connection between the makeup of our gut microbiome and our health.
Luckily, expensive probiotic supplements are not necessary if you want to improve your gut health. As it turns out, you can get many of the good bacteria your gut needs to move things through properly by changing your diet and lifestyle.
What benefits can improving your “gut health” confer? Better digestion, increased metabolism, decreased inflammation and decreased risk of chronic disease are just some of the proposed benefits.
- Eat more whole grains, nuts, and load up on veggies, beans and fresh fruits.
Here is yet another reason to eat fresh, whole foods. Barley, oats, quinoa, bulger, and other whole grains have fiber that we need to bulk up our intestines and help things to move through.
Whole grains then become a type of feed for the bacteria inhabiting the microbiome. It may sound strange that we have all these minute bacteria floating around in there, but they keep things running smoothly.
Eating more whole grains has been shown to increase the types and numbers of bacteria in our gut. The same is true of nuts, so pick up a variety of walnuts, pecans, pistachios or almonds, remembering that a serving is what fits into the palm of your hand.
Whole, fresh vegetables, beans and legumes, and a variety of fresh fruits serve as nutrition for the bacteria in our gut. Shop your local farmers market for fresh, whole foods in season and prepare your microbiome for your locale.
The more varied your and diverse your diet, the more varied and diverse your microbiota may become.
- The link between your teeth and your gut.
Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Having regular dental cleanings and check-ups may not seem to be important to a healthy microbiome, but studies at Cornell University and in Sweden have found that bacteria from your mouth can get into your stomach and cause problems.
Avoid the bad guys taking over the good guys in your tummy by taking care of your teeth.
In particular, sugar can cause yeast to grow and it can throw off delicate gut balance.
The science to back this up shows high sugar environments are bad for gut health.
- Eat fermented foods that have beneficial bacteria.
We’ve all heard about eating more yogurt for our gut health, but have we learned about eating more fermented foods?
These foods have more good bacteria to improve your belly. They contain a high count of lactobacilli bacteria, which are beneficial. They are also the ones that convert sugar to acids and alcohols:
- And finally, low sugar yogurt of the plain, natural variety
- Eat more dark chocolate and foods with polyphenols.
This one is a favorite. Who needs a reason to eat more chocolate? I don’t.
Rich in fiber and plant-based molecules known as polyphenols, travel into your intestines where microbes use them for fuel. Foods that are rich in polyphenols, such as dark chocolate, have anti-inflammatory properties, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels and decrease cellular stress.
What are some other foods to improve your gut that are rich in polyphenols?
- Red grapes, wine made from red grapes
- Green tea
- Blend in the spices.
It never hurts to scatter on the garlic, turmeric, ginger, and other favorite delicious spices. These spices help to rid your gut of harmful bacteria. They also won’t hurt the good bacteria.
- Limit artificial sweeteners.
Research studies with animals have found artificial sweeteners to have a negative effect on the microbiome. Rats given aspartame had increased blood sugars and were unable to use the insulin their bodies made properly.
Another human trial showed the same blood sugar increase. For gut health, it may be best to avoid artificial sweeteners altogether.
Have you made efforts to improve your gut health? If so, what have you done? What benefits have you seen?
Let’s get some good discussion going on around our gut health.