January 20, 2021
Did you know that over 100 trillion bacteria live in your digestive system? This bacteria is beneficial to protecting your body from various infections and inflammation, metabolizing your food, strengthening your immune system—and it even plays a role in your mental health and sleep patterns. Who knew your gut does more than just break down the foods you enjoy?
Because of the critical role your gut health plays in keeping your body healthy, it’s important to prioritize it. You might even find that focusing on your gut will change a lot of different aspects of your life.
You can focus on a gut healthy diet, work supplements and drinks into your daily routine and find ways to reset your gut microbiome—but we know it can be overwhelming, and all of this is much easier said than done. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of gut-healthy foods, probiotics and drinks, plus some other hacks for taking control of your gut and improving its health.
1. Know When to Reset Your Gut
Knowing when and how to improve your gut health is one of the first steps on your journey to prioritizing your digestive system. If you find yourself just starting on this journey, falling off track in your eating habits or coming off medications like antibiotics, getting right back into a healthy gut diet and routine is key.
There is no single, easy way to just reset the bacteria in your stomach, but working in more prebiotic foods, probiotics, fermented foods, high-fiber foods and avoiding alcohol, fatty foods and sugars can help get your digestive system feeling happy and healthy again.
2. Eat Probiotic, Prebiotic and Other Key Foods to Benefit Gut Health Naturally
Probiotics have a very big impact on our gut’s flora and your overall health. Research suggests probiotics can even help with weight control and diabetes. So why wouldn’t you want to work them into your regular diet?
There are a lot of foods that naturally contain probiotics. So, before you reach for a supplement, try incorporating some of these probiotic foods into your diet:
- Cheddar, mozzarella and gouda cheese
If you’re having difficulty working probiotics into your diet naturally, incorporating probiotic supplements into your vitamin regimen can also help regulate your gut microbiome.
In addition, foods loaded with fiber are some of the best foods for gut health. A lot of these high-fiber foods are also prebiotics and, while they can’t be digested by our bodies, the bacteria in our guts can feed off of these and generate some healthy bacteria to live in our guts’ biomes.
High-fiber foods that are both good for your gut health and are prebiotics include:
- Beans and legumes
Eating foods that help keep bloating and gut inflammation down will also benefit your gut’s microbiome and digestive lining. Incorporating spices like ginger and turmeric into your diet can make a difference when it comes to gut inflammation, as well as inflammation throughout your body.
Another benefit of naturally improving your gut health is supporting your immune system. Foods rich in flavonoids, such as elderberries, cause a reaction with the bacteria in the digestive tract and help protect against damage done to the body by viruses, such as the flu.
But getting the right amount and blends of these fruits and spices can be difficult, so consider reaching for some concentrated juice shots to easily work these nutrients into your routine.
Shop juice shots with Gopuff:
- Vive Organic Original Immunity Boost Drink 2oz
- Vive Organic Wellness Rescue Drink 2oz
- Vive Organic Immunity Boost with Elderberry 2oz
3. Enjoy Fermented Foods and Drinks
Kombucha isn’t just some hipster trend. This fermented tea is loaded with healthy bacteria to promote gut health, and is perfect to work into your daily routine as a way to naturally improve your gut and digestion system.
Yogurt is also considered a fermented food and is loaded with living bacteria to benefit your gut. Introducing yogurt into your regular diet will help boost the healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Opt for Greek yogurt and avoid flavored yogurts, which can be loaded with sugar and other artificial sweeteners, which would not have the effect you are looking for. This fermented food is also loaded with probiotics and helps promote healthy weight.
Other fermented foods, like sauerkraut, also have similar effects on your gut’s bacteria—so go ahead and load it up on your plate at your next barbecue.
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4. Stay Hydrated
Water is the source of all life and beneficial to many aspects of our health. Staying hydrated will benefit your skin, your energy levels, brain function and, of course, your digestive health. It’s recommended men drink around 15 cups of fluids, women 11 cups of fluids, per day. This isn’t limited to just water intake, but filling that need with water over other sugar-loaded beverages will benefit your body.
Staying hydrated will help reduce the risk of constipation, which is never fun for our bodies or our gut’s health. So grab a water bottle and keep it close to you. Consider tracking your water intake to stay motivated or decorate a bottle to encourage you to take more swigs throughout the day.
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If your mind is stressed, your body will experience the effects all over, including in your belly. Stress triggers your body to release different hormones, which disturb your body’s microbiome. One way to naturally maintain and care for your digestive system is to focus on your mental health.
Taking time to focus on your self-care will benefit your entire body in the long run. Try practices like meditation and yoga to help control your stressors. Journaling is also a great way to help identify and control stressors in your life. Your mind is a powerful thing, so prioritizing your mental health can have a lasting effect across your entire body.
6. Avoid Alcohol
Of course, enjoying your favorite drink on occasion is fine, but a night, or a few nights, of excessive drinking can really take a toll on your gut and the rest of your body. Not to mention an evening of heavy drinking often leads to some late-night eats. Greasy, fatty foods, while great in the moment, don’t usually feel so good in the morning. If you’re planning to enjoy a night out with friends, prioritize your food and hydration for the day to help prepare your body for what’s to come.
7. Limit Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
We get it: Some of the best foods are loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners, but these foods are not the best foods for your gut health. Sugar kills off the good bacteria in your gut and leads to an unhealthy imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Sugar also increases inflammation, and a lot of sugar leads to cravings, making it harder to break out of the cycle of indulging. But what can you do to avoid sugar?
When shopping for your groceries, opt for sugar-free alternatives to your favorite foods and start to feel your body thanking you. Start being more mindful of the drinks you are consuming throughout the day; check the label to see if there are any added sugars. If there are, then it’s likely not the best option for maintaining your gut health.
8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Avoid Late-Night Snacks
A good night of sleep is important for your immune system, energy levels, mental health and so many other elements of your total health. So it’s no surprise that one way to improve your gut health naturally is to get a great night’s sleep.
Just like your body needs sleep to recharge, your stomach needs to take a break and recharge from working on digesting your food. Giving your stomach a break, or fasting, can help change the diversity of bacteria in your gut.
If intermittent fasting throughout the day isn’t for you, then ignore those midnight cravings and let the time between your last meal and first meal of the next day be your gut’s break. It’s a great way to achieve a similar rest and give your gut a chance to naturally reset its bacteria. Remember to always consult a doctor before adopting a new diet or changing your eating habits.
While the thought of exercising may make you sick to your stomach, the act of not exercising could actually be the problem. That’s right: Regular exercise helps promote healthy bacteria in your digestive system. And regular exercise is beneficial to mental health and overall health too, so look for ways to increase your fitness levels.
Even if the gym isn’t your thing, try finding alternative ways to get active that you do enjoy. Whether you turn family gatherings into something active or incorporate some exercises into your desk time at work, there are a lot of ways to start making your lifestyle a little more active.
10. Avoid Unnecessary Medications
Antibiotics and NSAIDS (non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs) break down the lining in your gut and throughout your digestive tract, making them harmful to your gut’s bacteria when used for a long period of time. Of course, there are times when these medicines are needed, but if you can avoid taking them for long periods of time, your gut will thank you. If you do find yourself needing these types of medications, make sure you prioritize getting the high-fiber prebiotics and probiotic foods your body needs to naturally maintain your gut’s health and well-being.
Prioritize Your Stomach and Naturally Improve Your Gut Health
So what does all of this mean? If you’re looking for ways to naturally improve your gut health, you should focus on eating a healthy diet with a variety of foods, as well as maintaining your mental health, working out and resting.
You should also avoid unnecessary medications, alcohol and sugary and fatty foods. Keeping these tips in mind as you structure your daily meals and routine will help you keep up a happy and healthy gut microbiome and get you feeling energized to take on everything that comes your way.