Gut health is important. Between 60 and 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases.
To prevent the uncomfortable aches and pains that accompany common digestive problems, take action to enhance the health of your digestive tract now.
If you’re wondering how to improve gut health, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve outlined simple ways to boost your digestive tract and live a healthier life.
1. Stick to Foods With Polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds. They aren’t digested by human cells. Instead, they make their way to the colon and get digested by gut bacteria.
If you’re having gut troubles, incorporate polyphenol-rich foods into your diet. This includes:
- Green tea
- Red wine (hooray!)
- Dark chocolate
When the gut microbiota breaks down the polyphenols, it allows them to regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels.
2. Eat More Plants
There is a strong correlation between vegetarian diets and improved gut health.
Vegetarians tend to consume larger amounts of fiber, which benefits the digestive tract. Consuming more plant-based foods also decreases your risk of contracting disease-causing bacteria like E. coli.
Or, try to only eat meat for one meal of the day (like dinner). For breakfast and lunch, create fruit salads or platters that feature a variety of healthy veggies. When you do eat meat, try to stick to lean protein.
3. Decrease Dairy Consumption
Dairy may be delicious, but too much of a good thing inflames the large intestine and leads to bloating, cramping, and irregular bowel movements.
You don’t have to cut dairy completely out of your life to improve your gut health. But you can look for ways to cut back on how much dairy you consume a day.
With today’s wide variety of plant-based alternatives, reducing your dairy intake is easier than ever. Try replacing dairy milk with almond, coconut, or oat products. Instead of butter, cook with coconut, avocado, or olive oil.
4. Add Fermented Foods to Your Dishes
Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics. Probiotics boost healthy bacteria levels in the gut. They support gut microbes that prevent intestinal problems and inflammation.
Examples of fermented foods include:
- Tempeh (Indonesian soy product)
If fermented foods aren’t your thing, you can also look for probiotic supplements to take with your meals.
5. Drink Green Tea
People with high permeability in the intestinal wall have what doctors refer to as “leaky gut syndrome.” It causes bloating, gas, food sensitivities, and generalized pain. While there is no known cure for leaky gut syndrome, researchers have determined that green tea can help.
A study conducted on mice found that those who were fed green tea extract had more beneficial microbes in their intestines. The mice also exhibited lower permeability in their intestine walls.
Even if you don’t have a leaky gut, green tea is a healthy ingredient to add to your diet. In addition to improving gut health, green tea flushes your body with antioxidants, lowers your risk of obesity, and improves brain function.
6. Boost Your Oral Hygiene
Many people don’t recognize the direct link your teeth have on gut health.
But your mouth is the gateway to your gut. Nearly everything that enters your mouth makes its way to your stomach. Every swallow you take sends bacteria, both good and bad, to your digestive tract.
The first thing you can do to improve gut health is to spend more time chewing your food. Think of your mouth as the beginning of the digestive system. The more thoroughly you chew, the easier it is for your stomach to digest the food. Easier digestion leads to fewer cramps and less bloating.
Next, take better care of your teeth and gums. Brush your pearly whites twice per day, and don’t forget to floss. Regular dental cleanings prevent the buildup of unhealthy bacteria that can make their way to your gut.
7. Add Gut-Healthy Spices to Your Diet
The herbs and spices you incorporate into your meals influence your gut health.
Ginger is one of the best spices for your stomach. It soothes the lining of the digestive tract to reduce nausea, bloating, and gas. Ginger also stimulates saliva production, which aids in chewing.
Turmeric is another excellent spice to incorporate into your life. It’s commonly used in Indian dishes (like curry). Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that promote healing throughout your body, especially within the gut.
Basil is another gut superfood. The plant, which is one of the oldest herbs known to mankind, alleviates cramping and reduce gas. Holy basil is known to help the body reduce stress, which leads to better gut health.
8. Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress affects the stomach, digestive tract, and bowel movements.
Your intestines protect the body from unhealthy bacteria that come from certain foods. When you’re feeling tense, gas production increases. This makes the intestinal barrier weaker and allows the unhealthy bacteria to slip past your intestines.
The result is bloating, aches, pain, and discomfort.
Protect your digestive tract by reducing stress. Find soothing activities and incorporate them into your daily routine. Try taking a hot bath, reading, journaling, walking, or volunteering to reduce the tension in your body.
9. Exercise Regularly
Physical activity alters the composition of gut microbiomes. People who participate in regular cardiovascular exercise have more diverse bacterial populations in their guts, leading to a better-balanced digestive tract.
In addition to balancing the gut, exercise also decreases stress. Regular physical activity releases endorphins and decreases cortisol levels. It alleviates tension, which results in better gut health.
You don’t have to become an Olympic athlete to improve your gut health through exercise. But finding time to be active during the day (such as going on walks, swimming, or biking) can lead to significant improvements in your gut.
10. Get More Sleep
A healthy GI tract has microbiome diversity. This means there are a variety of fungi, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa working to keep your gut healthy.
Yet, studies have found that poor sleeping patterns negatively impact microbiome diversity. Less sleep also leads to higher stress levels, which decreases gut health.
To improve sleep and reduce gut problems, establish a healthy bedtime routine. Decrease the amount of blue light you’re exposed to at night and go to sleep at the same time each night. Try meditating or drinking herbal tea to reduce stress before bedtime.
How to Improve Gut Health Holistically
Gut health impacts your overall wellbeing. Taking action and making improvements to enhance your gut health can improve your quality of life.
In addition to making lifestyle changes, you can learn how to improve gut health with the help of professionals.
Our team strives to enhance patient health through a variety of holistic treatments. View our services to learn more about what our experts have to offer.