Tips to Improve Gut Health
Gut health is such a hot topic right now - and for good reason. Our ability to digest food in a way that doesn’t cause discomfort can make a big difference in overall quality of life. A functional and happy gut is also very important to overall health, which is something science is still just revealing to us. With this in mind, I have many clients who come to me wondering if they should take this or that supplement or new fancy drink or if there might be other ways they can promote a happier gut. Generally, my recommendations are to stick to the basics to see if we can improve things with just a few tweaks. Read on for my top three tips to help your gut do its thing.
Let’s start by breaking down what it is exactly that our gut does for us. Said simply, the gut breaks down the food we eat into tiny bits, pulls out as much of the useful stuff as possible, and
effectively gets rid of the rest. It is a pretty cool group of organs because it does all of that without us needing to think about it or do anything at all. There are, though, a few things we can do to show our guts a little love.
Tip #1: Eat regular, defined meals and snacks throughout the day. The #1 job of our gut is to digest food and recover necessary nutrients for our bodies to make use of. It is happy when it is well nourished and has the energy to do that job. Eating adequately helps guarantee our gut has just that - energy. The time between meals is also important. There is a “housekeeping” process that occurs in the gut while food is not being actively digested. This is one of the reasons grazing can cause GI upset. Luckily, just a few hours is enough time for our gut to digest and to complete its housekeeping and be ready for the next meal.
Tip #2: Eat fiber from a variety of sources. When you are not getting enough fiber, you may have noticed difficulty with bowel movements. Fiber creates bulk as digested food moves through our intestines, and it makes bathroom visits much more pleasant. Fiber serves another function in our gut health as well. Most people have heard of the gut microbiome. In case you haven’t, the microbiome describes the billions of bacteria that live in our gut and serve all sorts of wonderful processes for us including energy production, immunological functions, skin health, and a myriad of other roles. The bacteria in our systems thrive on fiber that our bodies cannot digest or use. We can promote a more favorable environment for our microbiome by making sure they have the energy they need to do their work!
Tip #3: Move your body, at least a little bit, most days. One of the best ways to keep things moving is to keep you moving. While intense classes at the gym or running are fine forms of movement for most people, that type of high-intensity exercise can be problematic for some people in keeping their GI system moving. More gentle and lower intensity regular movements such as walking, stretching, or similar activities stimulate the GI system, helping it to work more effectively. While research is still new, this article reviews how activity can even impact the overall composition of the gut microbiota.
Gut health can be really complex. These are tips that work for most people, but some conditions are more involved, and there are often other things going on for those who experience GI pain, bloating, or other gastrointestinal issues. If this is you, we can help! You can learn more about us and find a link to make an appointment here.