Gut health is a progressively important topic that is showing up in the wellness world with increasingly higher status.
Many people know gut health is critical for proper digestion, but it plays a significant number of other roles.
For example, it is critical for healthy brain function, healthy immunity, good skin health, proper detoxification of the body and optimal concentration.
If you are ready to improve on all of these areas, use a plant-based diet to boost your gut health with these methods.
1. Reduce Your Sugar
While sugar may wreak havoc on your energy levels and insulin stability, decrease your focus and affect your concentration, not to mention potentially set you up for long term issues such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome, there’s something else that your high sugar diet is affecting: your gut health. The bacteria in your gut thrive on sugar. Unfortunately, though, it is the “bad” bacteria that thrive on sugar the best and that are most able to proliferate and grow from your intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates, processed foods, pastries and sweets. Reigning this in and removing all refined sugar, opting for just whole grain carbohydrates and natural sugars, is an important step in re-establishing a healthy gut biome and maintaining the proper gut bacteria balance.
2. Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are those that contain naturally occurring bacteria, formed from a symbiotic relationship within the food. There are many options for fermented foods, such as fermented vegetables, kimchi, fermented grains, kefir, kimchi, yogurt and many more. These foods offer probiotics for the gut which are more easily absorbed as they are in their natural form. When supported with the right in-gut environment, this bacteria can very easily create sustainable gut health which promotes better digestion, better focus and concentration and improves your skin health.
3. Lower Stress and Increase Sleep
Much of improving your gut health comes from what you do (and don’t) eat, but there are several other factors that contribute to how your gut feels and how healthy it is. One of those things is stress. When you are stressed, your body does not conduct digestion properly. In fact, it shuts down your digestion in the sympathetic stage of your stress, and you need to be able to return to your parasympathetic state in order to digest food. If you are eating when stressed and not properly digesting, the food sits in your stomach for longer, contributing to the proliferation of bad bacteria and disrupting the balance. Likewise, a lack of sleep does not allow proper gut function either, because sleep is the time for gut repair. When you aren’t getting adequate sleep, your digestive system does not turn off and switch to repair and recovery mode, an essential time period for improving overall gut function.
4. Consume Prebiotics
While there is a lot of talk about probiotics, we don’t always remember 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, tiger nuts and green banana flour 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. Inulin is a form of soluble fiber with naturally occurring prebiotic concentrations. Aim to have prebiotics daily in association with probiotic consumption.
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition