1. Cut back on the sugar - As if you didn’t already know enough reasons to reduce your sugar intake, improving your gut health is another one to add to the list. The bacteria that are in your gut feed off sugar. This is fine when your gut flora is in balance and you aren’t eating sugar in excess. If either of those things isn’t true however, sugar – of any kind, including fruit – acts as the ideal meal to feed the bad bacteria and allow them to proliferate. This in turn, not only leads to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, but also depletes the resources available for the good bacteria of the gut, thereby causing them to die off and decrease in numbers as well. The end result is a continuously imbalanced gut biome that grows more and more out of control.
2. Consume prebiotics - You can think of prebiotics as food for the probiotics! The healthy bacteria in our gut require the proper food and nourishment to survive and multiply, and eating prebiotics is the best way to ensure this happens. Foods that are high in resistant starch, such as black eyed peas and tiger nuts are a great source of prebiotics, as are foods high in inulin like bananas and asparagus. Resistant starch is starch that is not immediately digested when consumed, but rather remains in the gut to be slowly digested for food for the gut bacteria, while inulin is a form of soluble fiber with naturally occurring prebiotic concentrations.
3. Eat fermented foods - Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh are all a source of probiotics. Eating preboitics is like manually increasing the concentration of healthy bacteria in your gut and helps maintain the bacteria balance within the gut flora. Other sources of probioitcs include yogurt, kefir and kombucha. If you have particularly bad gut health, you may need to supplement with a probiotic capsule, otherwise, regular intake of probioitic rich foods should be adequate to maintain proper gut function.
4. Get enough sleep – It sounds completely unrelated to digestive health, but the truth is, that when you are asleep, your digestive system engages in many restorative processes including repairing any damage incurred to the digestive system or the mucosal lining, replenishing stores of digestive enzymes, and simply slowing down and taking a rest. Make sure you observe the natural fasting period – having dinner by 8 and then breakfast 11-13 hours later – to allow for the system to rest, as well as sleep 8-9 hours to allow it to facilitate necessary repairs and recovery.
5. Support your digestive tract – The digestive system is made up of millions of cells and several different components, all of which need to be properly taken care of in order to function optimally. You can help with this by consuming gut friendly superfoods and plants, such as dichotomous earth, slippery elm, marshmallow root and turmeric. All of these help support the delicate nature of the digestive tract, fight inflammation and improve the mucosal lining of your intestines, in turn improving your digestive function and overall gut health.