Gut health is a hot topic in the fitness and health world, but most don't really understand why. Our digestive system was once considered as a simple bodily system that absorbs the nutrients from the foods we eat and then gets rid of the waste. However, despite popular belief, your gut has more to do with than just digestive health. Yes, good digestive health is important but maintaining overall gut health impacts our body in more ways than we originally thought.
The gut has trillions of bacteria, good and bad, living in it – this is known as the gut microbiome. It's responsible for many important processes in your body because certain types of bacteria can contribute to a number of unpleasant effects (outside of digestion issues). The gut is connected to the immune system and even your brain, in fact, this is why the gut is known as the "second brain"!
We're here to tell you why gut health is so important, plus how to improve it so you can improve your digestion, mood, and overall health.
Why is gut health important?
The main responsibility of your digestive system is to take the food we eat, convert it into nutrients, and then shuttle the rest of the waste out of your body. That means if your gut isn't working properly your body won't be getting the nutrients it needs. In fact, many vital nutrients, like vitamin B12 and iron, have specialized transporters that only exist in the gut. For example, in order for iron to be absorbed effectively you need adequate stomach acid. It's hard to get iron and B12 in other ways, which is why gut health is important!
Aside from that, if you're not eating whole foods and nourishing your body properly – you're going to feel it! If you notice, typically after eating a lot of processed foods, and unhealthy foods in general, your energy levels dip and can even cause irritability and anxiety. This all has to do with the bacteria in your gut! Having more bad bacteria in your gut than good bacteria can impact your immune health and even your mental health. This is because around 70-80% of immune cells reside in the gut, meaning the gut microbiota has a mutual relationship with the immune system!
So, how do they work together?
They maintain a balance between reaction and tolerance! This means that a healthy gut is responsible for how our body reacts to new things that are exposed through us to our gut. So, a diverse gut flora that has plenty of good bacteria will teach your immune cells that not everything that enters our system is bad. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut shifts the immune response so it triggers inflammation, digestive issues, weight gain, and more.
In terms of how our gut affects our mental health, it has to do with the nerve cells found in our gut – that's right, our gut has its own nervous system! The nerve cells found in the gut produce 90-95% of serotonin and there are also neurotransmitters in the gut. This means that our gut talks with our brain and any emotions we feel (anxiety, anger, stress) can trigger symptoms in the gut. If you're having intestinal trouble, the signal will be sent to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. So, digestive issues can be the cause or the product of stress, anxiety, or depression!
How to improve gut health
As you can see, maintaining a healthy gut is more important than just an upset stomach. It's connected to our immune system and brain, and it's essential for our bodies to absorb much-need nutrients, therefore it's the utmost importance to keep it healthy!
Below are different ways you can start improving your gut health so it can flourish with good bacteria and maintain a healthy relationship with your immune system and brain.
Eat a wide range of whole foods
Not only do you want to eat healthy and nutrient-dense foods, but you also want to make sure you're getting a variety of foods in your diet. Eating whole foods will feed the gut with good bacteria, but to have a diverse microbiome you should incorporate a wide range of whole foods.
A more diverse microbiome strengthens our gut, so incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole grains in your diet. Some of the best foods that promote a healthy gut include...
Those are just a few, there are various foods that will help fill your gut with a diverse range of good bacteria. And make sure to get enough fiber to help your digestive tract work properly! The amount of fiber you should consume will depend on a few factors, but generally, women should aim to get 25 grams of fiber per day while men should aim for 38 grams per day.
Aside from that, you should limit and cut back on unhealthy foods that are high in sugar, fat (healthy fats are okay), and salt. Bad bacteria and yeast found in the gut feed on processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods. The more of these foods you eat, the more bad bacteria will grow!
So, be very careful with what you feed your body, and pay attention to the foods you eat! Even healthier foods can upset your stomach, making it important to pay attention to how your body feels after you eat. Doing this will help you eliminate any foods that may be triggering inflammation or bloating.
Add more fermented foods to your diet
Probiotics and prebiotics are essential for your gut, so if you're struggling with gut issues – add fermented food into your diet! Fermented foods aren't common in the American diet, but they are high in probiotics and are crucial for good gut health. While prebiotics is present in fiber-rich foods, like a few listed above (walnuts, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, whole grains, and more).
Probiotics are tiny microorganisms that support your metabolism and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. While prebiotics is the types of foods that good bacteria like to feed on. Prebiotics are present in more common foods so it's easier to get in your diet, but probiotics are not. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics so try to include more in your diet!
The best-fermented foods you should start including in your diet are kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, and miso. These foods will help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut and maintain it.
Manage stress levels
Cleaning up your diet and eating a wide range of whole foods is just one way how to improve gut health, another is by managing outside factors, like stress and sleep!
Stress not only takes a toll on your mental health, but it can also wreak havoc in your body, including your gut. Chronic levels of high stress can trigger inflammation, amongst other things. Although it's nearly impossible to remove all stressors in your life, you can aim to reduce and manage your stress levels by doing things you enjoy. Adopt strategies that help you manage stress like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or even practicing self-care. If stress is common in your life, try to take the time to incorporate self-care into your routine to help you unwind, relax, and reduce your stress levels.
Not getting enough sleep can also have a negative effect on your gut, so aim to get 7-9 hours of good sleep every night.
Try gut health supplements
Your main priority should always be eating a healthy diet filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. However, adding a hut health supplement can help give your digestive health the boost it needs. Taking a daily probiotic supplement (for those who aren't getting enough of it in their diet) can help increase the good bacteria in your gut.
Aside from probiotics, super greens powder is a great way to ensure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals from foods you may be lacking in your diet. Super greens are typically packed with several fruits, leafy greens, other vegetables, antioxidants, probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber to help give your digestive health and immune health a boost! However, you want to look for one that is not filled with unnecessary junk so you get optimal doses for everything you need – like ours!
373 Lab Super Greens is packed with vegetables, fruits, grass, algae, antioxidants, fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics to help boost the immune system, digestion, energy, and training performance! Just one scoop a day will help you feel refreshed, renewed, and energized – and give your gut health the boost it needs!
A healthy gut leads to a healthier you
The gut is connected with several important processes in our bodies, besides digestion. That's what makes gut health so important. It's a complex system you should aim to heal and maintain balance so that your body is functioning at optimal levels. So, to improve gut health – clean up your diet, add more fermented foods to your diet, manage stress levels, and consider taking a gut health supplement.
Who are we?
We're 373 Lab Supplements – nice to meet you! Founded by Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia), and with a team filled with fitness enthusiasts, we've worked hard to bring a trustworthy supplement to the market! Supplements that are designed to help you achieve your fitness goals by giving you only the nutrients you need – no unnecessary fillers or additives!
Find what your pantry is missing at 373 Lab Supplements.