The gut does much more than just digest food. It also helps support the immune system, central nervous system, heart health, mental health and other essential bodily functions, per Healthline.
“The gut microbiome is an ecosystem, and it is important that all the different microorganisms within it are balanced,” Abir Hamza-Goodacre, a registered nutritional therapist at Benenden Hospital in the U.K., said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
When the bacteria in the gut microbiome are balanced, the body is better able to process food, distribute nutrients throughout the body and eliminate waste.
When the gut microbiome is out of balance — a condition called dysbiosis — people can face a higher risk of disease, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart issues and other health conditions, per WebMD.
“When it comes to supporting this diverse ecosystem and looking at your gut health, it is never just one thing in isolation,” Hamza-Goodacre said.
When the bacteria in the gut microbiome are balanced, the body is better able to process food, distribute nutrients and eliminate waste. (iStock)
“Given that the gut is so intrinsic to overall well-being, you have to look at your wider lifestyle and what could be affecting your gut health.”
There are some specific changes that anyone can make to their lifestyle and diet to support a balanced gut, which Hamza-Goodacre shared with Fox News Digital.
Here are five smart tips.
1. Eat a whole-food diet
Diet is key to favorable gut health, according to Hamza-Goodacre.
“Often, the people with a healthy and diverse gut ecosystem are those who eat a range of colorful fruits and vegetables every day,” she said.
Consuming too many processed foods, sugary snacks and unsaturated fats can cause an imbalance between bad and good gut bacteria, the nutritionist warned.
She recommends incorporating a diverse range of fruits and vegetables into the everyday diet.
“Eating fermented foods can help boost the number of good bacteria, also known as probiotics, in your gut, ultimately aiding your digestive system,” a nutritionist explained. (iStock)
“It is also important to include sources of insoluble fiber in your diet, which help to speed up the passage of food through the stomach,” Hamza-Goodacre said.
Some examples of insoluble fiber sources include nuts, grains, legumes, cauliflower, strawberries and raspberries.
2. Embrace fermented foods
Some of the best foods you can eat to support gut health are fermented foods, the nutritionist said.
“The gut microbiome is an ecosystem, and it is important that all the different microorganisms within it are balanced.”
“Eating fermented foods can help boost the number of good bacteria, also known as probiotics, in your gut, ultimately aiding your digestive system,” she explained.
Plain yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso and tempeh are some examples of fermented foods.
3. Reassess your stress
Research has shown that high stress levels can cause a reduction of good bacteria in the gut, Hamza-Goodacre said.
“Consistently high stress levels could be the cause of an unhealthy gut and could also lead to digestive issues such as constipation or loss of appetite,” she noted.
Some ways to reduce stress include practicing mindfulness, exercising regularly and seeking mental health care as needed. (iStock)
“Even small changes, such as practicing mindfulness, exercising more and speaking to a mental health professional could improve your overall well-being and gut health,” she added.
4. Move your body
Increasing activity levels can improve all areas of wellness, including the gut.
“The increased oxygen in your bloodstream and rise in body temperature that comes with exercise are exactly the conditions your good gut bacteria thrive on,” Hamza-Goodacre said.
For those who are just starting out with exercise, implementing small changes, such as a quick power walk or gentle jog, are recommended.
“Pilates and yoga are also great low-impact exercises to strengthen muscles and work up a sweat,” she added.
5. Limit artificial sweeteners
Another simple dietary change to make for your gut is to limit the use of artificial sweeteners, Hamza-Goodacre suggests.
“Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut,” according to the nutritionist. (iStock)
“Artificial sweeteners can disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut,” she said.
“An imbalanced gut flora can lead to stomach disturbances such as gas and bloating, as well as more long-term symptoms, such as unintentional weight changes or constant fatigue.”
If you have a more sensitive gut or notice uncomfortable stomach symptoms occurring after consuming products high in artificial sweeteners, Hazma-Goodacre suggests opting for naturally sweet foods, such as bananas, berries, sweet potatoes and cashew nuts.
Source: Fox News