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6 Tips to Improve Gut Health

June 17, 2024

Your gut is made up of your small and large intestines, which host trillions of bacteria called the microbiome. A healthy gut has a large, balanced variety of “good” bacteria. Poor gut health is caused by a low diversity of microorganisms or too much “bad” bacteria. This imbalance can cause physical and mental health issues. For a healthier gut, try following these tips to improve gut health.

1. Eat a Variety of Foods

One of the best ways to improve gut health is to make sure your diet includes a variety of healthy foods. It’s recommended to consume 30 different plant foods each week. These foods should be different colors to make sure you’re getting a range of nutrients. Plant foods are also rich in fiber and polyphenols, which help fuel a healthy gut. Some of the best foods for gut health include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fermented foods. Try to avoid ultra-processed and high-sugar foods.

2. Boost Good Gut Bacteria with Probiotics

fermented foods rich in probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that, when consumed, can help increase the diversity and amount of good bacteria in your gut. Eating foods that contain probiotics or taking probiotic supplements may be one of the best ways to improve gut health. Some of the best probiotic-rich foods are fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, miso, tempeh, pickles, and unpasteurized aged cheeses.

3. Stay Active

Regular exercise can be a great way to improve gut health. Exercising regularly has been known to help manage irritable bowel symptoms. Physical activity gets the colon moving, which can result in regular bowel movements. Research also suggests that physical activity positively affects the microbiome and may contribute to increased diversity of good bacteria. Even low-intensity workouts such as walking, yoga, or swimming can help improve and maintain gut health.

4. Reduce Stress

woman practicing breathing exercises to reduce stress

Stress can have a major influence on gut health. Chronic stress has been linked to a poorly functioning gut. This is partially due to the nerve connection between the gut and the brain. High levels of stress causes a block in this vagus nerve, preventing your gut from working the way it should. This is why learning to manage stress is crucial if you want to improve gut health. Try healthy stress-management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, socializing, journaling, talk therapy, massage, creative hobbies, etc.

5. Get Quality Sleep

Studies have found that the gut can influence sleep, and sleep can also influence the gut. Better sleep has been linked to increased gut bacteria diversity. One study even suggests that sleep disruptions may change which microorganisms are present in the gut. If you want to improve gut health, aim to get at least 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night.

6. Drink Plenty of Water

water pouring into glass

Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated can have a positive effect on gut health. Sufficient water intake may be linked to increased diversity of the microbiome. A study performed in 2022 found that people who drank more water had fewer of a type of bacteria that causes gastrointestinal infections. Staying hydrated also helps to prevent constipation and encourage regularity, which is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.

More About Gut Health

These are some of the most effective and easiest ways to improve gut health. It’s important to maintain a healthy gut because your gut is linked to many of your body’s systems, including your immune system, heart, brain, and much more. Learn more about how gut health affects overall health and why you should take action to keep your gut healthy.