While perhaps not the most interesting thing to talk about, gut health has become a pretty buzzy topic over the last few years as well as a focal point of research within the medical community. In fact, many say the gut is the gateway to both physical and mental wellness. If your gut isn’t healthy, then the rest of your body will struggle to be healthy, which is why it’s often referred to as our “second brain.”
Inside your gut—or gastrointestinal (GI) tract—are trillions of living microorganisms, including “good” and “bad” bacteria, that make up your microbiome. You have around the same number of these little critters living in there (mostly in the large intestine and some in the small intestine) as you do human cells in your entire body.
When they become disturbed or unbalanced, your overall health (especially your digestion) can be negatively impacted in more ways than one.
Interested in learning more? We can help. Read on to discover everything you need to know about gut health, including how to keep it in tip-top shape.
Why Is Gut Health So Important?
One of the epicenters of your body, the gut plays a vital role in your overall health and well-being. It’s where all food is ultimately broken down to a simple form that can enter the bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout the body. However, this is only possible with good gut health.
You see, a healthy gut contains good microbes and immune cells that fight off infection agents like bad bacterial infections, fungi, and viruses. It also communicates with the brain through nerves as well as hormones and can help control everything from your weight and mood to inflammation and immune function. In fact, 70% of your immune system is found right in the gut, which is why keeping it balanced is the key to good health.
What’s more, around 90% of serotonin—the happy, feel-good hormone—is produced in your gut. So if you’re feeling a little down or anxiety-prone, it could very well be traced to a gut imbalance.
Needless to say, keeping your gut healthy and happy is of the utmost importance to keep the rest of your body healthy and happy!
What Are the Telltale Signs of an Unhealthy Gut?
There are many ways an unhealthy gut might manifest itself. If you experience any of the telltale signs below, there’s a pretty good chance your gut health is lacking and could benefit from a little TLC:
- Sugar cravings
- Loose stools
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Indigestion/Acid reflux/heartburn
- Abdominal pain
- Mental health issues
- Fatigue or lethargy
These imbalances often fix themselves after a short time, but if they become chronic issues or become unbearable, they might require medical attention.
What Causes the Gut To Get Out of Balance?
Believe it or not, many facets of modern life can damage your delicate gut microbiome leading to a whole slew of icky symptoms. Here are some of the most common ways the gut can become unbalanced:
- Poor diet
- Excess stress
- Overindulging in alcohol
- Overuse of NSAIDs
- Poor sleep
- Insufficient water intake
The Best Tips To Improve Gut Health
Think your gut health might be out of whack? Don’t worry—you’re not alone, as millions of Americans struggle with digestive issues. That said, there’s no need to resign yourself to not feeling on top of your game if your gut health is lacking.
Check out these super simple tips to support a healthy microbiome from the inside out:
Tip #1: Cut Back on the Sweet Stuff
Every single time you indulge in processed sugary foods, you’re essentially helping the “bad” bacteria in your gut to flourish and thrive. Yup, it’s true—sugar encourages the production of bad bacteria, and in large amounts, sugar alcohols (aka polyols) found in sugar-free products can also cause GI distress as they are poorly absorbed by the intestine.
If you have a sweet tooth, steer clear of the processed stuff and stick to sweet foods with complex sugars, such as:
- Dark chocolate
- Coconut flour
- Sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables
Tip #2: Get Up and Move
Active folks tend to have much more healthy and diverse gut bacteria than those who live relatively sedentary lifestyles, so get up and get moving!
Not only will exercise help to keep obesity at bay, but research shows that it has a very positive effect on the gut microbiome, reducing both inflammation and fatigue.
Tip #3: Don’t Worry Too Much About Germs
As it turns out, all those antimicrobial cleaning products that have become exceedingly popular over the years may, in fact, be harmful to your delicate microbiome. There’s even evidence that your immune system actually learns to function effectively by getting healthy exposure to bacteria and dirt.
So with this in mind, no need to spend a fortune on trendy antimicrobial cleaning products. Basic, natural cleaners and soaps are all you really need to get the job done.
Tip #4: Try to Avoid Antibiotics
Antibiotics work by wiping out all bacteria, which makes them very effective for treating illnesses but very bad for your gut microbiome as they can’t differentiate between good bacteria and bad bacteria.
Try to purchase meat products raised without antibiotics. If you have to take an antibiotic to treat a virus, be sure to incorporate a good probiotic supplement and fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt) into your daily routine to help replenish your gut bacteria.
Tip #5: Shoot for Seven to Nine Hours of Sleep
Getting enough quality shut-eye is so important to good health. Many studies have shown that those with erratic sleeping patterns run the risk of disrupting their microbiome as well as developing inflammatory diseases.
Establish good sleep habits by hitting the hay and getting up at the same time each day. According to experts, adults should clock in between seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.
Tip #6: Load Up on Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber doesn’t just help with regularity in the loo, but it provides prebiotics that supports the growth of friendly microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, that populate in the intestines and ultimately keep the bad bacteria in check. While there are many different foods you can eat that are loaded with body-nourishing fiber and whole grains, we love snacking on Uprising Food’s Superfood Freedom Chips!
Made with nine grams of prebiotic fiber, six grams of heart-healthy protein, and only two net carbs per serving, not only are these unbelievably crunchy chips a digestive game-changer, but they taste absolutely amazing. Finally, chips you can feel good about eating!
We also can't get enough of Uprising Food’s Superfood Cubes, masterfully crafted with Artisan methods. This innovative high-protein bread works like a daily supplement but tastes like a sourdough! Made with clean superfood ingredients with absolutely no fillers, our bread is not only prebiotic fiber boosted, but it’s gluten-free and keto-friendly. What’s not to love?
Tip #7: Find Ways to Mellow Out
When you’re feeling especially stressed, your gut can become more permeable, which can tip the balance of intestinal bacteria in favor of the “bad” guys.
To protect your gut microbiome, find something that truly calms your soul, whether that be meditation, deep breathing, yoga, journaling, sipping on green tea, using essential oils, or another relaxation technique (one glass of red wine certainly can’t hurt!).
A Final Word
So, what’s the best way to improve gut health, you ask?
To keep your delicate gut microbiome in tip-top shape, it’s important to keep stress down to a minimum, get good quality shut-eye each night, avoid processed sugary foods, exercise, and most importantly, consume a diet rich in fiber.
Fiber is essential for gut health and, therefore, our overall health. But the truth is that 95% of us are utterly fiber starved.
It’s time to fix the fiber gap and take gut health a little more seriously—not with powders or unrealistic recommendations, but with Uprising Food, made with clean superfood ingredients and absolutely no fillers or added sugar. You simply can't find food this healthy, that tastes this good, that's this fresh.
Ready to clean the pipes and fertilize your gut? Check out our mind-bending superfoods here at Uprising Food! At nine grams of prebiotic boosted fiber, six grams of body-nourishing protein, and only two net carbs per serving, you can go ahead and indulge, guilt-free.