More than half of your immune system lives in your stomach. It does this by keeping harmful bacteria out of your system and using healthy bacteria to keep your body running smoothly. That makes it a fairly important part of your overall health. You should consider these tips to keep your gut and the rest of your body in good shape.
Why is gut health important?
There is a limited amount of space available along your stomach lining for bacteria to reside. You want to make sure the bacteria that does settle there is the right kind.
Your stomach also impacts the way your brain functions and vice versa. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to keep your mental health in check. When you feel anxious or experience stress, your brain can hinder involuntary actions in your body like digestion. Similarly, when your gut does not feel good, it sends signals to your brain that can affect your emotions and mood. In fact, most of the serotonin – a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and emotions – is made in your gut, not your brain. How you feel and what goes on in your stomach is much more intertwined than scientists had previously realized. That is why you should make taking care of your gut a top priority on your health checklist.
Eat probiotic foods
Fermented foods contain a large number of good bacteria. Kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, coconut kefir, and microalgae are all great plant-based foods rich in probiotics. When selecting these types of foods, avoid pasteurized and vinegar-based varieties since it can kill good bacteria.
Eat regularly, but do not graze
Give your gut the chance to clear out waste including bad bacteria. Every one and a half to two hours your intestines contract to keep the waste in your stomach moving throughout the rest of your digestive system. When you eat, this process comes to a stop. That means snacking constantly can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and slow down digestion. You do not have to go to the extent of fasting, but you should give your body breaks between meals to prevent bloating and constipation.
This tip is on pretty much every wellness blog and for a good reason. Your gut needs to be hydrated to keep waste and bad bacteria out of your system. You should drink about half your body weight in ounces of water a day. That means if you weigh 130 lbs, you should drink about 65 oz of water each day. Dehydration can cause the bad bacteria to outnumber the good bacteria and lead to inflammation.
Easier said than done, right? While a stress-free life is what we all strive for, it can feel impossible to accomplish. Try to cope with your stress in productive ways like through meditation, yoga, therapy, and time outdoors. Letting stress take over cause your brain to slow down digestion, causing bad bacteria to thrive in your gut.
To learn more about which supplements and practices will improve your gut health, consult the professionals at Northshore Naturopathic Clinic.