Don’t let the buzz about gut health make you think this is another fad diet. For decades, health practitioners have been preaching about the importance of gut health and recommending gut cleanses to everyone looking to improve their health and overall well-being.
Our gut is the first line of defense against pathogens. It houses our gut microbes, also known as gut bacteria. Poor gut health is not only related to constipation and bloating; it’s also been linked to malnutrition, anxiety, and even mood disorders.
What are the symptoms of an unhealthy gut?
Virtually anyone can benefit from a gut cleanse, not just those with tummy issues. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you should try to reset your gut health:
- Skin issues
- Mood swings
- Joint pain
Before You Start
The following cleanse is safe for all users. Consult with an accredited health care practitioner first. During this cleanse, some detox symptoms can occur, but if you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and seek medical advice. Once you finish the cleanse, you should keep adding foods to your diet that improve your Gut Health. The same for pre- and pro-biotic supplements, to make sure your gut stays in top shape.
Foods to Stay Away From During the Challenge
- Deli meats
- Processed foods
- Coffee or soft drinks
- Fried foods
- Beans and legumes
- Refined seed oils
- Sugars (including artificial sweeteners)
- Food additives
Foods to Eat During the Challenge
- Fresh fruits and veggies
- Grass-fed meat and poultry
- Sweet potatoes
- Healthy oils
- Bone broth
- Fermented foods
- Herbal teas
8 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally
Balancing your digestive tract’s bacteria is always a plus. Having a healthy gut can afford you many things—positive mental function, regular digestion, clear skin, and more. An unhealthy gut composition has been linked to diseases and inflammation in the body. A GR8 solution? Improving it naturally.
1. Eat Some (Dark) Chocolate
You read that correctly. Yet another reason to enjoy some exquisite dark chocolate. Not only can breaking off a square reduce blood pressure and body weight, but it can help alter the gut microbiota. Apparently, the good bacteria in your belly actually eat up the dark chocolate, helping it to multiply and ferment. It then becomes a substance with anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Spice It Up
Guess what? Your gut likes it hot. So, eating more spicy foods is a good move. Eating spicy foods can have an anti-inflammatory effect in the stomach and reduce the amount of harmful acid. Other spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, and cinnamon are also beneficial for speeding and regulating metabolism through the gut.
3. Cut the Sugar
Eating white foods like refined white sugar is harmful to the gut. This type of sugar can drastically alter the gut function and bowel contents, which can lead to further issues with digestion and toxicity in the body. Not all sugar is bad for your gut though, (how criminal would that be?). However, certain sugars sourced from fruits like dates or figs are beneficial to gut function. Figs even contain prebiotics, which is like food for the good bacteria in your gut.
4. Fermented Foods are Friends
Your gut appreciates nothing more than fermented foods. They’re saturated with probiotics that help to regulate the existing bacteria in the gut. Just as well, fermented beverages like kombucha are of significant value to the health of your gut.
5. Work It Out
Setting aside the time to get moving is good for your gut. It can help to balance good bacteria. In contrast, a lack of exercise has been linked to an unhealthy gut. Try incorporating cardiovascular bodyweight workouts like high-intensity interval training or strength training for a boost in gut function.
6. Tell Stress to Say, Less
Stress is no one’s friend for a reason. Experiencing high levels of stress can reduce the essential diversity of your gut bacteria. Specifically, good bacteria. This type of deficiency can cause digestive irregularities.
7. Sleep It Off
Not getting enough sleep may be a threat to your gut bacteria. Research suggests that short-term effects of sleep deprivation have an impact on the composition and species that are populating in the gut. Additionally, a lack of sleep can affect insulin sensitivity or your guts’ ability to metabolize certain foods well. So, go ahead, hit that snooze button.
8. Brush Well
The gut, or your digestive tract, begins in the mouth. That said, making sure to brush your teeth well is critical. The mouth contains its own set of bacteria that can become imbalanced by lack of hygiene, which in turn can influence the bacteria in your belly negatively. Scrub them well in the name of gut health.
Are Probiotics Really Necessary for Gut Health?
Probiotics are micro-organisms that live in your gut. They can be bacteria or certain types of yeasts. Foods that are probiotic are usually prepared by bacterial fermentation. Probiotics not only offer health benefits but can also improve your immune system when you consume the right type of probiotic food. Take note that probiotics are not the same as prebiotics. Discover the beneficial connection between probiotics and gut health.
Maintain a Healthy Digestive System
Probiotics are widely suggested to improve your digestive system and in turn your health and immune system. Probiotic food supports the good bacteria in your gut by providing a nourishing environment to these bacteria. It can help cure diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and reduce bloating. It also helps you to fight against infections that cause ulcers and stomach cancer. If you have a digestive problem, you need to have a probiotic supplement after consulting with your doctor. If you are using any antibiotic, you should avoid having probiotic supplements. The antibiotic reacts with the probiotic to kill the natural bacteria in the gut.
Gut bacteria differs from one person to another. An obese person may have a different bacteria compared to a non-obese person. It’s the bacteria in the gut that determines body weight. Research showed that people with excess belly fat who took probiotic food resulted in a loss of belly fat over the 12 weeks of the study. They started gaining weight when they stopped taking probiotic food.
Other Health Benefits
Probiotic also help in reducing depression and anxiety, lower bad cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure. It can also assist in reducing acne, rosacea and eczema.
Side Effects of Probiotics
Probiotics are generally considered a safe supplement for most people. When you start take probiotics supplements, you may notice small issues in digestions, bloating and mild discomfort in your stomach. Over a period of time, your stomach and gut get adjusted to the probiotic foods and your digestion and gut health starts improving. Probiotics could prove dangerous for people who have a compromised immune systems like HIV, AIDS. If you are taking antibiotics or under any medication, consult your physician before taking probiotic foods.
Probiotic Foods and Supplements
Some fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and butter milk are all rich in probiotics. To improve the connection between probiotics and gut health, you can also take probiotics available in the form of tablets, capsules, and even gummies. Dried beans, legumes, garlic, asparagus, onions, leeks, green bananas and wheat are good probiotic foods, as well. If you experience any abdominal issues while taking a probiotic food, you can switch to other probiotic food. Its takes a while on a trial and error basis to arrive at the probiotic that best suits. you.
For the longest time, we’ve all looked at the traditional food pyramid as an ideal healthy diet. However, over time, the standards of what was once considered healthy have changed. Enter the psychobiotic food pyramid, a way of eating based on the gut-brain connection more than anything else.
From heart health, skin appearance, hormones, stress, sleep, and even mental health, the gut is connected to all. Based on this premise, the psychobiotic food pyramid aims to protect our gut health from promoting overall well-being and health.
Most of us know psychobiotics as probiotics or live bacteria that, when ingested, improve gut bacteria. The term was made famous by the book The Psychobiotic Revolution, which explains the new food pyramid and how our gut health connects to our psychological wellbeing. However, further research suggests that the concept of psychobiotics needs to include prebiotic. Primarily because prebiotic supports the growth of fundamental commensal bacteria.
The Undeniable Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis
Every microorganism living in our intestinal tracts are what make up the gut microbiome. The key to understanding psychobiotics is to understand the gut-brain axis.
So far, most of the research conducted to understand the effects of Psychobiotics is done on rodents. However, so far, studies have shown a positive association with mental health conditions like depression and reduction of anxiety, without antidepressant actions.
Human research about probiotics is limited, and sample sizes are small. However, a well-known study found that those consuming a blend of probiotics showed significant declines in self-reported negative mood and distress. The same study noted that those in the probiotic group also showed lower levels of free cortisol, which is suggestive of reduced stress levels.
How to Use the Psychobiotic Food Pyramid
For those looking to adopt a gut health-based diet, basing food selection on the psychobiotic food pyramid can prove helpful. As always, always consult with a doctor before making any drastic diet changes to prevent vitamin deficiency and other adverse effects.
Layer 1: Sweets & Red Meats
Consume: Once a week
Layer 2: Poultry & Eggs
Consume: Twice to three times a week
Notice that your poultry and eggs section is also limited to about three servings per week. Try to incorporate moderate portions into your weekly diet. Dairy products also fall under this category, but they should be limited.
Layer 3: Fish & Seafood
Consume: Twice to five times a week
An essential element in the Mediterranean diet, fish and seafood should be more prominent in your diet, aiming for at least two servings per week. Rich in omegas and other gut-boosting properties, fish are a must-have in every diet.
Layer 4: Fermented Foods
Consume: Every day
Here’s what differentiates the psychobiotic food pyramid from the traditional one. Fermented foods are known for their rich pre- and probiotic content, both associated with improved gut health and a healthy gut microbiome balance.
Layer 5: Seeds, Nuts, Herbs & Healthy Oils
Consume: One serving per day
Use this layer to base your meals on these foods. Choose healthy oils, such as olive oil. Add nuts, legumes, herbs, and seeds known for their anti-inflammatory properties, including almonds, sunflower seeds, and oregano.
Layer 6: Grains, Veggies & Fruits
Consume: With every meal
Do your best to incorporate these foods into every single one of your meals. Add whole grains such as quinoa and oats. Complete your salads with beans such as chickpeas for optimal gut health. Make sure each of your meals contains a serving of vegetables, either cooked or raw from all parts of the color spectrum. Finally, fruits either fresh or frozen and organic when possible, will help complete your food pyramid.
A Word from GR8NESS
A complete and balanced diet is always the best way to eat for your gut health. However, if you choose to follow a set diet such as veganism, the keto diet, or trending diets such as the Whole30 and Paleo diets, remember to add probiotics to your supplement list to ensure a balanced gut microbiota. As always, speak with your doctor about the best practices to eat for your gut health.