Think about that feeling you get when you feel something is about to go wrong. Now think about that excited-nervous-happy-butterflies sensation you get when things are looking up. What do they have in common? They both occur in the gut.
Those gut feelings are a real indicator of what’s going on. This intuitive place in the body is in charge of much of our body’s processing, functioning and balancing. The activities that take place in the mid-section of our torso dictate a lot about how we feel and how resistant to disease we are.
Also called the gastrointestinal tract or the digestive tract, the gut is a complex system that does everything from breaking down the food you eat to producing vitamins to protecting your immune system. Needless to say, it’s an important part of your body to pay attention to and take care of.
Here are a few ways to help your gut stay healthy.
Eat prebiotic foods
Your microbiome is a living community: it needs good food to keep functioning. Soluble fiber-rich foods are your gut bacteria’s favorite. Consistently eat fruits, veggies and seeds like flax and chia, and keep animal protein to a minimum to keep your microbiome healthy.
Eat probiotic foods
If it’s sour and fermented, there’s a good chance it’ll benefit your GI tract. Kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and miso all contain beneficial bacteria. The cultures these introduce to your gut promote good bacteria development and can bolster digestive wellness.
You can also add foods like coconut oil and bone broth and supplements like collagen to your diet to help protect the lining of the gut: this will help prevent toxins from escaping your intestines and adversely impacting the rest of your body.
Take probiotic supplements
Many people’s gut bacteria colony is under-populated: it can be pillaged by stress, poor diet or antibiotics. You can send in reinforcements for your gut bacteria by taking a supplement. Look for brands that contain a high CFU count: the package should state that the capsules contain 15 billion to 100 billion cultures and should also contain at least 10 different strains of bacteria. Each bacteria works differently in the system, so look for a variety of cultures like bacillus coagulans, saccharomyces boulardii, bacillus subtilis and lactobacillus rhamnosus to introduce more diversity into your gut.
Avoid bacteria killers
Refined grains, highly processed sugars, excessive alcohol and too much caffeine can damage your bacterial colonies. Antibiotics, stress and environmental toxins can also impair your microbiome’s work: limit your exposure to these as much as you can.