6 Ways To Improve Your Gut Health
Have you ever wondered why your stomach knots or feels queasy when you are confronted with major psychological or emotional stress?
Researchers now know that the gastrointestinal system and the brain communicate via a recently discovered pathway called the gut-brain axis.
This is just one more way that the bodily systems are interconnected!
Because a majority of the immune system is located in the gut, the gut-brain axis is implicated in autoimmune disease.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Intestinal bacteria send signals to the brain, and the brain sends messages back via neural, endocrine, and immune cells.
Therefore, digestive disorders, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Ulcerative Colitis, are a sign of gut-brain axis communication disruption and an unhealthy microbiome.
Not only that, but depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders are very much related to the health of intestinal bacteria.
Because of this, psychiatric disorders commonly co-occur with autoimmune disorders.
A healthy intestinal microbiome—in the form of a proper balance between good and bad gut bacteria—facilitates proper communication between the intestines and brain.
Ideally, it shields the body from the adverse effects of chronic stress.
LET’S TALK ABOUT STRESS
Stress can literally affect every part of the digestive system!
Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, a system composed of hundreds of millions of nerves that communicate with the central nervous system.
When stress activates the “flight or fight” response in your central nervous system, digestion can shut down.
Your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, affects the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decreases secretions needed for digestion.
Ever notice when you get nervous or worried about something and your tummy feels funny or tightens up?
This is because you’re disrupting the normal processes of your digestive system!
Just wait, there’s good news!
Relaxation can actually complement the nervous system and in turn, the digestive system allowing it to work better and more efficiently.
6 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR GUT HEALTH
1. ADEQUATE LEVELS OF MICRONUTRIENTS
Micronutrients are essential for your body to optimally function, they fall into the categories of minerals and vitamins.
Opt for fresh, whole foods to make up the majority of your meals!
Locally grown, fresh, and organic fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the micronutrients for a happy and healthy gut.
2. PROBIOTIC AND PREBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS
Taking probiotics and prebiotics is the most effective way to improve the health of your gut flora and improve the functioning of your digestive tract.
They improve digestion, boost immunity, protect the gut against invaders and promote gut healing.
Whether you take them in the form of supplements or you get them from foods, these can colonize your gut to add both quantity and quality to your gut flora.
3. DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
These guys help to break down nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fats so that they are easier to absorb.
Digestive enzyme supplements are beneficial for those not making enough of their own digestive enzymes, whether it is due to low stomach acid, nutritional deficiencies, gut dysbiosis or gut inflammation.
They can also help to reduce symptoms of indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation as well as reduce the likelihood of food intolerances.
4. MEAL HYGIENE
You know where this one is going!
This means chewing slowly until the food is completely broken down in your mouth. Try this exercise: place your utensil down between each bite and don’t pick it back up until you’ve thoroughly chewed your previous bite.
5. PRACTICE STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES AND EAT MINDFULLY
It’s also important to eat mindfully—not rushed!
By slowing down and being aware of the smells, tastes, and textures of your food, not only will your body be able to digest your food in a parasympathetic state (that’s what you want!) but also allow you to actually enjoy your meal.
This means putting away distractions like phones, television, or any other activities that might pull your attention away from your delightful meal.
Try taking three deep breaths before enjoying your meal. This is what helps you to move out of a sympathetic nervous state and into a parasympathetic one.
For overall health, including mental health, you must give your microbiome extra TLC.
Improve your gut by upping your micronutrients, investing in high-quality supplements, paying attention to your meal hygiene, slowing down, and bringing mindfulness to each meal.
Implementing one, two, or all five of these steps will improve your gut and overall health immensely!
A healthy gut is a happy guy!
Want more gut health and healing? Check out this Bulletproof article on How Gut Bacteria Control Your Mind.
How do you take care of your gut? Tell us below!