You often hear about the importance of supporting your immune system. But did you know that 80% of your immune system is actually located in your gastrointestinal tract – AKA your “gut”? That’s why it’s so incredibly important to make sure you optimize your gut health!
Gut Health Relies on a Healthy Microbiome
The real stars of your gut are tiny microorganisms that include protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and other kinds of single-celled organisms. Now, you may see this list and think, “Ew, I don’t want all that stuff inside my guts!” But you actually do. These microorganisms – and there are trillions of them – make up what we call your gut’s ‘microbiome.’
Your microbiome is like the Club Med for all of these microorganisms that live harmoniously with one another, helping your body to be as healthy as possible. Or at least, that’s the way nature intended.
But sometimes our gut flora can become unbalanced and there will suddenly be a proliferation of harmful bacteria. You see, you want helpful (probiotic) bacteria in your gut. But when the bad guys move in, problems arise.
So how does your microbiome become unbalanced? Mostly through poor lifestyle choices like eating too many processed foods, drinking sodas, and being stressed out.
And of course, if you’ve ever taken one or more courses of antibiotics, they not only killed off the bad bacteria in your body but also the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
So, what can you do to improve your gut health?
Clean Up Your Diet
Sugars, both natural and artificial sweeteners, have been found to have a negative impact on your gut flora. So, start by cutting out sugar as much as possible. Also, incorporate fermented foods like Kim Chi and Sauerkraut to replenish the probiotics. And finally, eat plenty of fiber since bacteria love eating it!
Lower Your Stress Levels
It’s not always easy to do, but try your best as stress negatively impacts your entire digestive tract. Also, when we’re stressed, we tend to eat the wrong kinds of foods, laden with sugar and trans fats.
A 2019 study by the Physiological Society showed that exercise may have a positive impact on the diversity, cluster, activity, and presence of gut bacteria.
The bottom line is, the more you take care of your gut, the more it will take care of you.