What Is Gut Health and Why Does Everyone Keep Talking About it?Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. The gut microbiota helps with everything from digesting food to synthesizing vitamins, and when it’s in balance, your gut microbiota is key to maintaining a healthy digestive system. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, including stress, poor diet, certain medications, and age. When the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even obesity.
1. Keep Fermented Foods a Regular Part of Your Diet
If you’re already eating yogurt as part of your daily breakfast, keep it up! Fermented foods, including kimchi and sauerkraut, can help you have a higher range of bacteria in your gut. Additionally, up to 10% of the good bacteria in fermented foods winds up in your digestive tract—emphasizing the importance of keeping these foods as part of your daily diet.
Not a fan of yogurt or kimchi? Consider taking a probiotic supplement every day. Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when taken in the right amounts, can improve gut health by helping to restore the gut microbiota to a healthy state.
When you’re looking for a probiotic supplement, make sure to look for one that has at least one billion live cultures and is refrigerated to ensure potency.
2. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Making fiber a part of your daily diet is a great way to improve the bacteria balance in your gut. Beyond improving your gut health, increasing your fiber intake reduces your chances of suffering fatal outcomes from a cardiovascular event and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Gut microbiota are also essential in breaking down fiber in your digestive system.
Eating a lot of vegetables and other forms of produce, along with whole grains, also play a role in helping prevent colon cancer.
Not sure how to increase your fiber intake? Consider adding more beans, legumes, and vegetables to your diet. These are all excellent sources of dietary fiber.
3. Don’t Skip on Seafood
Seafood is an excellent source of protein, omega-three fatty acids, and vitamins—all of which are essential for gut health. Omega-three fatty acids, in particular, help to reduce inflammation throughout the body—including the gut.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, consider taking a fish oil supplement. Fish oil supplements provide the same benefits as eating fish, without having to eat seafood.
4. Reduce Artificial Sweeteners and Emulsifiers
While we all love a good sugary treat every now and then, artificial sweeteners can have a negative impact on gut health. In fact, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can lead to dysbiosis—an imbalance of gut bacteria.
Emulsifiers are another type of food additive that can cause gut inflammation and lead to dysbiosis. Emulsifiers are added to processed foods to improve texture and extend shelf life.
If you’re looking to improve your gut health, it’s best to avoid processed foods that contain artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers.
5. Stay Hydrated
When you’re dehydrated, your digestion slows down, and can even lead to constipation. Hydration is also absolutely essential for proper absorption of nutrients. Water keeps food moving through your intestines, preventing digestive upset and stoppage.
Dehydration also increases your risk of developing UTIs, kidney stones, and other health problems. Make sure you’re drinking enough water each day by keeping a water bottle with you and sipping on it regularly.
It’s important to note that while caffeinated beverages do count towards your daily water intake, they can also have a dehydrating effect. So make sure you’re also getting enough plain water each day.
The Institute of Medicine recommends on average 2.7 litres of water for women and 3.7 litres of water for men every day.
6. Unexpected Gut Health Hack: Eat Slower and Chew Harder
You may not realize it, but how you eat can have an impact on gut health. When you eat quickly and don’t chew your food properly, you’re more likely to experience indigestion, heartburn, and other digestive issues.
Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly gives your gut time to digest food properly and absorb nutrients. It also helps to prevent overeating—another gut health no-no. If you’re looking to improve your gut health, make a conscious effort to eat more slowly and chew each bite thoroughly.
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7. Choose Pre-Prepared Healthy Meal Plans
When you cut processed foods from your diet and choose pre-prepared healthy meal options, you keep eating healthy and improve your digestive health with one of the easiest gut health hacks. A healthy diet also means different things to different health-conscious people—do you prefer plant-based meals? Keto? Something different?
Choosing a pre-prepared healthy meal plan makes eating healthy quick and easy, while letting you track nutritional and caloric intake.
8. Don’t Eat the Same Meals Every Day
Eating a varied diet is important for gut health. When you eat the same foods every day, you’re more likely to develop food sensitivities and allergies. A varied diet also helps to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your gut needs to function properly.
If you’re looking to improve your gut health, make an effort to mix up your meals and try new things. You may be surprised at how good you feel when you eat a varied diet.
9. Even if You’re Eating Right You Still Need it Burn it Off
Exercise is important for gut health. Physical activity helps to reduce inflammation, improve gut motility, and promote a healthy gut microbiome.
If you’re looking to improve your gut health, make sure you’re getting regular exercise. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. If that’s too much for you, try to walk for 10 minutes after lunch and dinner to help your body process starches and lipids.
Learn how healthy meal plans keep you on track toward your nutritional goals with these blogs:
Get a Healthier Digestive System With the Easiest Gut Health Hack
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