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4 Ways to Better Gut Health

Updated: Dec 19, 2022


I work to help individuals alleviate symptoms that come from a wide range of gut conditions - anything from general constipation to more serious digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and more. If you struggle with poor gut health or experience pain or bloating, contact me today or sign up for a compatibility call to learn more about how I can help you with your gut.


The Four F's


Whether you're going to the bathroom too much, too little, or you have just general uncomfortable feelings (such as bloating or pain), this article will get you started on the right path to feeling better. Although gut health is a complex topic and recommendations will vary based on the individual, the four f's - fiber, fluid, flora and physical activity are commonly recommended for people suffering from constipation and can be useful in upgrading your health in general.


Recent research has linked gut health to overall wellbeing, so it makes logical to start with this straightforward question: A healthy gut is what exactly? Put bluntly, the ratio of "good" to "bad" bacteria in the gut is what can define it as healthy or unhealthy. It's tough to imagine, but the community of bacterial microflora in your GI tract is made up of thousands of unique species and contains more than 100 trillion bacteria. It's crucial to maintain a healthy gut microbiome and prevent it from becoming out of balance due to lifestyle, aging, antibiotic, and disease-related factors.


Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to affect your gut through food and exercise to keep a healthy balance of microflora. Let's look at it.


Fiber

Health enthusiasts and professionals frequently refer to fiber as the "magical nutrient" because of its benefits, which include controlling blood glucose and reducing cholesterol. But how does it affect your stomach? Let's first discuss what makes fiber special in order to comprehend its function in the gut.


Our bodies are unable to digest fiber, a form of carbohydrate found in the structural components of plants. Although fiber doesn't contain any calories, it does help with food digestion and serves as a "prebiotic," or nutrition, for the probiotics (good bacteria) that live in our colons. It's a big deal. The ratio of good bacteria to possibly hazardous bacteria is also substantially higher in high fiber diets as compared to low fiber diets, according to studies.


Soluble and insoluble fiber are the two main forms of fiber that affect the digestive system. In the digestive system, soluble fibers combine with water to generate a gel that softens and facilitates bowel motions. Additionally, they can help with uncomfortable symptoms like diarrhea and slow down food digestion. Brussels sprouts, avocados, and sweet potatoes are great sources of soluble fiber.


Insoluble fiber works a bit differently. Instead, it serves to bulk up our stools. Insoluble and soluble fibers work together to keep us regular. Skins from fruits and root vegetables are good sources of insoluble fiber. It's crucial to keep in mind that all foods made from plants contain both kinds of fiber. The only thing that varies is the ratio of each. So what's the final word? To keep your gut healthy, consume a variety of plant-based foods (fiber only comes from plants!).


Fluid

This one is pretty straight forward, drink more water! The optimal amount of water intake helps in numerous ways. Essentially every function in your body needs water to work properly. Additionally, the appropriate fluids lubricate your GI tract and keep food—especially those high in fiber—moving through it. Another factor is temperature. Drinking cold liquids or drinking liquids while eating can irritate your stomach, so try sipping on some room temperature water instead. Warm water with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar added can both enhance stomach acidity and have calming benefits. It's also crucial to remember that your body requires more fluids when it's hot outside and when you're exercising more. ​



Flora

Several studies have linked gut microbiota to a number of diseases, including obesity, allergies, diabetes, cancer, and even some mental health disorders, making gut microflora a hot topic right now.


Probiotics are present in high concentrations in a healthy microflora. Our stomachs are protected from dangerous microorganisms by probiotics. The gut lining is primarily shielded from dangerous pathogens by this healthy gut flora on the GI tract. An unhealthy gut is not able to successfully fight the majority of these infections, but a healthy gut can.


Eating prebiotics (fiber) to assist the probiotics that already reside in our bellies is one strategy to nourish the gut. Additionally, eating foods that have been fermented or cultured and contain live bacteria boosts the overall probiotic content and maintains a healthy digestive system. Examples include kimchi, sauerkraut, and tempeh. Taking a quality probiotic and/or prebiotic supplement can also help promote a healthy gut environment this way.


Physical Activity

I know, this one doesn't technically start with an ""F" but you get point! Exercise helps things move quicker. By improving motility and transit time, this is how exercise benefits your gut. Exercises like walking, swimming, and weight training are all excellent choices. Individuals who maintain a sedentary or inactive lifestyle, have been associated with a microbiome that is less diverse, which means there are fewer bacteria available to fight off hazardous diseases. What does this all mean? Make sure you stay active! Especially if you have any kind of gut condition or struggle with constipation.



And there you have it, folks! Not all the information you need for a healthy gut, but a good couple steps in the right direction.




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