Why Gut Health is Important
Looking after your gut is a vital part of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. As well as important health benefits, good gut health will lead to shinier hair, clearer skin and a lot more energy, so why wouldn’t you want to maintain good gut health?
The term ‘gut health’ relates to the functioning of your entire digestive tract, meaning all the way from when we put something into our mouth to when it exits the body. It is known that if you don’t have good gut health, you’re not getting all the nutritious value out of what you’re eating. It’s essential to maintain a healthy gut in order for your body to properly absorb and utilise all the vitamins and minerals it encounters, thanks to your diet.
There have also been recent studies that suggest our gut health is linked to mental health. Studies have revealed that there is a link between diet and our brains, with the middleman being our gut. It’s emerged that the bacteria inside us is what links the food we eat to the way we feel.
There are many reasons why gut health is important, and gut health benefits are truly extensive. Read on to find out how to achieve and maintain a healthy gut.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
According to Holmes, bloating is caused by “excessive gas in the intestines.” Essentially, this means your body is struggling to break down the food you’re eating (usually carbohydrates and proteins) which will eventually lead to fermentation and excess gas, which in turn leads to bloating.
Skin irritation or conditions
Skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis can all be linked to a damaged gut. A bad diet can cause ‘leaking’ of the gut, which means the gut leaks certain proteins into the body. This ‘leaking’ can aggravate the skin and cause various conditions.
Some scientists suggest that intolerances are caused by bad bacteria in the gut. It’s believed that unhealthy bacteria eventually leads to difficulty in breaking down certain foods, causing side effects such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea, pain and sickness. Persistent side effects when eating certain foods can then lead to intolerances.
Things you can do to improve your gut health
Lower your stress levels
Consistent high levels of stress can have a severely detrimental effect on your whole body, including your gut. In extreme cases, stress may cause a decrease of blood flow and oxygen to the stomach, which then can lead to cramping, inflammation, or an imbalance in gut bacteria.
Ways to lower your stress levels include exercise, getting a massage, spending time with people who make you happy and lowering your caffeine intake. By reducing your stress levels, you can help improve your gut health – as well as improve many other areas of your overall health.
Ensuring that you chew your food properly and eating at a slow pace can improve digestion and nutrients absorption. Eating slowly can help reduce the discomfort you can get from eating too fast, such as heartburn and acid reflux. Eating slower is a simple and effective way of to promote gut health.
What foods promote gut health?
There are also various foods you can begin to introduce to your diet to help support good gut health.
If you’re wondering what foods promote gut health, it has been proven that fermented foods can be hugely beneficial. Foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yoghurt and miso are known to be good dietary sources of probiotics. They contain beneficial probiotics which improve the breakdown of food – thereby sustaining good gut health.
Garlic is high in inulin; a type of non-digestible carbohydrate that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system. Garlic essentially acts as fuel for the bacteria in our gut to do its job better, which can make the gut function better overall.
Soak nuts, seeds & grains before you eat them
Some foods aren’t easy for your body to digest, and soaking them beforehand can help your body absorb the nutrients it needs. Nuts, seeds and grains are all covered in phytic acid which makes them difficult to digest, but by soaking them beforehand, you can help your body break them down and avoid the gut having to work harder than it needs to.
Keep a Healthy lifestyle for Good Gut Health
Ensuring you look after yourself by having the correct diet and getting enough sleep will help maintain a healthy gut. The age-old proverb of eating at least your ‘5-a-day’ is a great way to start improving your overall health, and an easy way to get a head start on this is to have a glass of V8 a day. V8 juice is packed with a wealth of vitamins and minerals, which are needed for your body to function at its best.