Gut feeling. Gut instinct. Spill your guts. What about: eat well for a healthy gut? In our everyday expressions, we attribute lots of things to the gut. But expressions aside, our guts are actually a very important part of our overall health and wellbeing. Over the past decade, researchers discovered connections between the gut—also known as the gastrointestinal tract—and a whole host of physical processes. Many scientists now believe that taking certain gut friendly measures, like eating probiotic foods, actually helps keep your entire body healthy. Several exciting studies even connect gut health to obesity.
So how exactly do you restore and maintain a healthy gut? What are the most beneficial gut-healthy foods? And how does this all connect to your weight?
A Healthy Gut is a Balanced Gut
Your gut is a bustling, complex place. Populated by roughly 100 trillion bacteria, it is like its own mini-ecosystem. Some of the inhabitants of this gut metropolis are healthy and beneficial bacteria, while others are far less helpful.
The beneficial bacteria in your gut keep you healthy by producing important nutrients and helping you metabolize food more efficiently. These bacteria also serve as a protective barrier against intestinal infections. Recent studies suggest this complex ecosystem might even play a role in treating or preventing illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
But not every gut reaps these benefits in equal measure. The key? Balance.
The bacteria in the gut has upwards of 250 times more genes than the human genome. For all of these bacteria to do their jobs effectively, the entire ecosystem must be in balance. If your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t have enough helpful bacteria, this leaves room for the not-so-helpful bacteria to thrive. Likewise, it is important to have a wide variety of healthy bacteria in your gut, because each type plays a unique role. In other words, a diverse and balanced gut is a healthy gut.
Gut Health and Obesity
Scientists now know that people who are obese usually have a different makeup of gut bacteria than people who are not obese. We still aren’t sure if this is the cause—or an effect—of obesity. But a number of studies suggest that a healthy, balanced gut improves metabolism, alters how we store fat, reduces inflammation and balances blood sugar levels. One study even showed that certain healthy gut bacteria curb appetite by regulating hunger-stimulating hormones.
We still have a lot to learn about how restoring gut health might help with weight loss. But it is safe to say that eating gut-healthy foods and taking other actions to restore balance in your gastrointestinal tract is an important step on your road to health.
Gut-Healthy Foods and Other Ways to Restore Gut Health
There are a number of ways to restore and maintain a healthy gut.
- A balanced diet: Lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbs and limited sugar helps maintain good gut bacteria.
- Probiotics and fermented foods: Gut-healthy foods like kefir, fermented vegetables, kombucha and tempe re-introduce beneficial bacteria into your gastrointestinal tract. Just be sure to check the sugar content on yogurts and kefir.
- Apple cider vinegar: This prebiotic cleans your digestive system, increases good bacteria and curbs appetite. Use it in cooking or try Lindora’s Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies.
- Plenty of sleep: The lining of your gut regenerates while you sleep, so gut health includes getting a full night’s rest. Consider Lindora’s REM4 with 4 active ingredients to help just that!
Adding some or all of these actions into your daily routine goes a long way toward gut health. But as always, remember there is no single “magic pill” for losing weight. Maintaining a healthy gut is just one piece to the puzzle. A balanced diet and exercise are also key ingredients. For many people, getting guidance from a professional is also crucial.
If you have more questions about gut health, or if you want help working on your weight loss goals, please contact me or one of the nurses at our clinics.
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