Want to have a better immune system, manage your weight, improve digestion, stop craving sugar, sleep well, and sleep more? Well, just listen to your gut and improve the overall health of it! Your gut, also known as “your second brain”, is the gastrointestinal system in your body and holds millions of bacteria. This system is one of the most under-appreciated systems in the body and people are now starting to take notice of the gut’s impact on our health and well-being.
There is ‘good’ bacteria and ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut and eating the right food can greatly contribute to increasing your ‘good' bacteria. If you have more ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut, it can cause inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and other chronic diseases1. An imbalanced ratio of low, but good to high bad bacteria in the gut can also cause digestion issues, cravings for sugar, inability to manage weight, and being unable to absorb vitamins, minerals, and fat. Serotonin is also produced in the gut, which is a neurotransmitter that affects your emotions, mood, sleep, memory, appetite, and libido. This can all be improved with a good bacterial balance.
So how can you boost good bacteria and correct your gut health? With the right foods! Here are 3 ways to eat to improve your gut health:
1) High Fiber
Fiber isn’t actually digested in the body, however, it does help the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut grow. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are great sources of fiber to include in your everyday diet. Try adding raspberries to your usual breakfast, beans to a salad, or add lentils in a soup!
Probiotics are the actual ‘good’ bacteria that can be consumed for your gut. Taking a probiotic supplement or eating probiotics through food can support the overall composition of the bacteria in your gut and supports your metabolism2. When taking probiotics, be sure to have them with foods that contain fibers so the good bacteria can feed off of it and grow.
3) Fermented Food
Fermenting is a process that converts the sugars in food into ‘good’ bacteria. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Cultured vegetables such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or even pickles are high in probiotics as well as enzymes which aid in digestion3. A country that has been practicing good gut health for centuries is South Korea.
They lead the world in the highest life expectancy! One of the reasons for the longevity is their gut-healthy diet. Their meals traditionally include kimchi which is a popular Korean condiment of fermented vegetable mix and is packed with gut-healthy probiotics! Explore culturally different foods and start adding a little kimchi to your everyday meals in order to live a long and healthy life just like South Koreans!
- Zhang Y-J, Li S, Gan R-Y, Zhou T, Xu D-P, Li H-B. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2015;16(12):7493-7519. doi:10.3390/ijms16047493.
- Sanders ME. Impact of Probiotics on Colonizing Microbiota of the Gut. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2011;45. doi:10.1097/mcg.0b013e318227414a.
- Swain MR, Anandharaj M, Ray RC, Rani RP. Fermented Fruits and Vegetables of Asia: A Potential Source of Probiotics. Biotechnology Research International. 2014;2014:1-19. doi: 10.1155/2014/250424.