Knowing and using the right gut health hacks can drastically improve your health. We’ve all had days when our gut didn’t feel right—bloating, gas, you name it. While everyone wants to keep those occasions to a minimum, did you know that your gut health has an even greater impact on your life than those gassy days?
In fact, your gut health impacts countless corners of your wellness, from your heart health to your mental health. Enhancing your gut health can empower you to live a longer, healthier, happier life, and we’re here to tell you how with a lineup of handy gut health hacks.
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Gut Health and the Microbiome
First things first: to get the most out of these gut health hacks, you need the lay of the land as far as the gut is concerned. When the medical community refers to your “gut,” we’re referring to your digestive tract, also called your gastrointestinal tract or GI tract. More specifically, your gut health primarily involves your small intestine and large intestine—especially your large intestine. Most of the talk about gut health is referencing your gut microbiome.
Your gut microbiome is an ornate ecosystem of bacteria in your gut, primarily in your large intestine. There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, and while some are undesirable, many of those bacteria are beneficial and essential to your health. The bacteria in your microbiome feed on various compounds in your food and then output other compounds that your body needs.
What Does It Mean to Have Good Gut Health?
What exactly does good gut health mean? It generally involves having a strong population of good bacteria in your gut. It’s not just a numbers game, though. Different types of bacteria break down different nutrients and produce different health-essential compounds. As a result, to have good gut health, you need a diverse variety of bacteria. Our gut health hacks are all about how to create that diversity.
Why Gut Health Hacks Are Important
Strong gut health allows gut bacteria to produce certain compounds your body needs, and those compounds affect many aspects of your health. Gut health has been found to impact your risk for serious conditions, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and heart disease.
Gut health affects your mental health as well. As much as 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gut. Serotonin is a crucial neurotransmitter that enhances your mood, and low serotonin contributes to conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Interested in reaping the rewards of better gut health? That’s what our gut health hacks are designed to do.
Top Gut Health Hacks That Work
One of the tricky aspects of gut health is that it’s easy to have poor gut health without realizing it. So what can you do about it? Get your gut in order with these top gut health hacks that are easy to implement.
1. Focus on Diversity
If you’re a picky eater, prepare yourself for some bad news. As we noted, good gut health isn’t just about the number of bacteria; it’s about the diversity of bacteria, too. To have a strong combination of healthy gut bacteria, you need variety in your diet.
Most importantly, focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you already eat fruits and vegetables, one of the easiest gut health hacks is to try swapping out your servings of singular types of produce for mixes. For example, instead of making peas as part of your dinner plate, opt for a veggie mix that has peas, carrots, corn, and broccoli. Instead of snacking on an apple, make up a fruit salad to enjoy over the course of a few days.
2. Make the Produce Section Your Best Friend
You’ll hear this advice for weight management and just about any other nutrition-based health goal, but it’s important: eat more produce. Fruit and vegetables should be major staples of your diet rather than just a side dish or a snack that you toss into the mix every so often.
Plant-based meals are full of vital nutrients that nourish your gut bacteria and allow them to produce the compounds your body needs. They’re also packed with fibre, which is one of the most crucial nutrients for gut health.
3. Swap Refined Grains for Whole Grains
One of the top gut health hacks is a simple change you can make in your diet to improve your gut health: choosing whole grains instead of refined grains. For just about any type of refined grain you might eat, there’s a whole-grain alternative. Grab whole wheat bread instead of white bread, whole wheat pasta instead of traditional pasta, brown rice instead of white rice, and so on.
4. Build a Stash of Nuts and Seeds for Snacks
Many people think that snacking is bad for their health, but it’s not the act of snacking: it’s what they’re snacking on. If you get hungry between meals, build a healthy snack stash of nuts and seeds. Snacks like almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds contain excellent nutrients for your gut health and are strong alternatives to unhealthy snack foods like chips and crackers. This is one of those gut health hacks that are not only easy but tasty, too.
5. Go Pro with Probiotic Foods
You may have heard of probiotics already without realizing the role they play in gut health. Probiotic foods are foods that contain live microorganisms that benefit your gut health. Eating probiotic foods regularly is one of the top gut health hacks to help grow and support the ecosystem of healthy bacteria in your gut.
How do you find probiotic foods? Look for fermented foods, like yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. There are probiotic supplements, but research shows little evidence that these supplements are effective. It’s better to get probiotics from your diet.
6. Incorporate Prebiotic Foods
While many people have heard of probiotics, few people are familiar with prebiotics. Prebiotic foods are foods that don’t necessarily contain microorganisms but are loaded with nutrients that support the microorganisms in your gut. Some of the top prebiotics to incorporate into your diet are bananas, apples, almonds, flax seeds, broccoli, onions, and garlic.
7. Sip Smart with Tea or Coffee
Good news, coffee and tea drinkers! You could already be taking advantage of some gut health hacks in your morning habit. Coffee and certain types of tea, like black tea and green tea, contain high levels of polyphenols. Polyphenols are a type of compound that can increase and support the good bacteria in your gut.
The catch, though, is that this is the case if you take your coffee or tea as-is. Adding sugar can have the opposite effect, disrupting the balance of gut bacteria.
8. Order the Fish
Fish is a staple of a gut-healthy diet. You may already know that fish contains healthy fats that your body needs, but it also reduces your levels of an unwanted type of gut organism called Bacteroidetes. Bacteroidetes are associated with type 2 diabetes.
9. Go Natural
Processed foods might be convenient, quick, and cost-effective in the short term. In the long term, though, they can backfire by having a negative effect on your health. Processed foods often contain emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, or both. Each of those ingredients can reduce the diversity of your gut bacteria, so it’s important to keep them to a minimum.
10. Drink Up
We all know that drinking water is important for our health, but it’s probably linked to more aspects of your health than you realize. That includes your gut health.
A recent study found that people who drank plenty of water had less of certain unwanted bacteria in their gut microbiomes. Water also helps your digestion and the breakdown of nutrients, so grab that water bottle and keep sipping.
How SRx Can Help You Improve Your Gut Health
Your gut health is a cornerstone of your overall well-being, and it’s never too early or too late to start making sure your gut is serving you well. That’s how we can help. SRx’s integrated healthcare system can help you manage your physical health and mental health in a coordinated way. Our personalized care teams can work with you directly to evaluate and advise you about your nutritional needs, treat your mental health concerns with a combination of gut health hacks and therapeutic strategies, and more.
It’s all about getting the customized, collaborative care you need to enjoy better health. Contact SRx Health today to book your appointment or explore our site to learn more about our integrated services.