If you’ve read our earlier post, you’ll know we go into some pretty mind-blowing details about what the gut is, why it all matters, and how it impacts your brain function. If you haven’t, no worries – we’ll do a quick recap here (but read the post later!).
In its simplest form, your ‘gut’ is just a shorthand term for the gut microbiome. The gut is a part of your body located down in the tummy region that makes up a part of your digestive system. Trillions of bacteria, both good and bad, live there and impact a lengthy list of bodily functions including disease, weight, digestion, immunity, and even emotions!
As more research emerges about this part of the body, the more obvious it becomes that maintaining the right balance of those good and bad bacteria in your gut can help keep the rest of your body in a disease-free, happy and harmonious state.
HOW TO HELP YOUR GUT FLOURISH
1. INCORPORATE PROBIOTICS INTO YOUR FOOD
Chances are that if you’re living and breathing right now, you’ve probably been eating. That means this step is going to be pretty simple because you’re not adding anything to your schedule. You’re just paying a bit more attention to what you eat.
In order to incorporate probiotics into your diet, you need to know what a probiotic is and what foods count as probiotics so we’ll start there.
Remember how we mentioned the two types of bacteria in your gut? Well, probiotics are the healthy bacteria that you want more of. You can add foods to your meals that have naturally occurring probiotics or you can take supplements.
To incorporate naturally occurring probiotics into your food, you can:
- Combine probiotic yogurt (check the label to make sure it isn’t loaded with sugar), some fruit like raspberries or blueberries that require no cutting, and a low-sugar granola or steel cut oats into a bowl for breakfast. It’s super fast, delicious, and travels well in a container if you need to take it to work with you.
- Have a kombucha or kefir with lunch. Most grocery stores or petrol stations sell them or you can make your own. If you’re buying yours, check the label for sugar content and opt for something with 2g of sugar or less.
- Throw some tempeh like this one in your salad for a good source of dietary fibre, probiotics, and protein.
The best recommendations for probiotic supplements will come from a registered practicing dietitian but they’re also available online or in pharmacies. Just make sure you do some research on reputable brands before you go spending your money.
2. INCORPORATE PREBIOTICS INTO YOUR FOOD
Wait, didn’t we just cover that?
Nope! Now we’re talking about PREbiotics, or the non-digestible carbohydrates that feed your good gut bacteria and allow them to multiply and flourish in your body.
Like PRObiotics, you can eat foods with naturally occurring prebiotics or take supplements.
To incorporate naturally occurring prebiotics, you can:
- Keep bananas and a bag of almonds at your desk to snack on when you get hungry instead of being tempted by the sweets. If you don’t work at a desk, pop a banana or a small container of almonds in your car, handbag or briefcase for a quick and easy snack on the go.
- Remember the prebiotic yogurt, berries and oats breakfast from #1? That applies here too – the whole grain oats act as the prebiotic.
- Add asparagus to your salads or have as a side for your dinner. It cooks quickly and is full of goodness.
- Season your food with onions and garlic or choose menu items that include them.
- Add lentils, kidney beans, or chickpeas to your salads for a hit of protein and prebiotics.
3. WALK, TAKE THE STAIRS, AND GO THE EXTRA MILE
Research shows that more exercise contributes to a healthier gut (as well as other parts of your body). It’s not news that we should try and be active, but sometimes we need a reminder about how we can make it more achievable.
If a full-on gym session isn’t an option for you, squeeze more activity into your day by choosing the more active option when given the opportunity. For example:
- Skip the lift and take the stairs every time.
- Walk up/down the escalator steps instead of waiting. You’ll get there faster and you’ll get your heart pumping (but be safe!).
- Do walking meetings. Your colleagues will thank you.
- Go for a walk when you’re on the phone.
- Skip scrolling through social media. If you have to have your fill of pop-culture, sport, politics, etc., download a podcast instead and listen to it while you walk.
Take it one step at a time and make the changes that work for you – every little adjustment will help!
Written by Kayci Scaggs of Vitamin C Health