Even for those who don’t suffer from gastrointestinal issues, gut health should still be at the forefront of any healthy lifestyle. Recent research has been showing that maintaining gut health is immensely important. This is news to many people who do not suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). The gut directly contributes to immune system performance, brain function, and weight control. The typical person’s GI tract contains trillions of microbes making up a unique gut microbiome in each individual's body.

Since each person’s gut is unique, maintaining gut health is not as straight forward as just taking your daily vitamins. However, this is not to say that vitamins and probiotics don’t help. Probiotics are essential as part of an overall gut maintenance regimen. However, just taking probiotics, but still consuming a high amount of daily sugar, the positive benefits of the probiotics are outweighed by the negatives from the sugar. Diet is extremely important and maintaining a proper diet plays affectsall of the bodies functions, from diabetes togout. Probiotic supplements are great, but diet should also be comprised of vegetables,whole grains,  legumes, and high fiber to properly maintain the gut’s overall health.

Related to probiotics are the lesser talked about prebiotics. Vegetables naturally contain prebiotics, which have just begun to be studiedduring the past few decades. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that boost the growth of healthy gut microbes by creating a nutrient rich environment in which microbes can thrive. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that pass through the stomach and small intestine to be used by microbes living in the large intestine. Foods like leeks, onions, garlic, peas, asparagus, beans, soybeans, and lentils all contain prebiotics.

Beyond increasingyour vegetable intake, fermented foods have also been found to improve gut health. Fermented foods include everyday foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, fish sauce, and more less common foods like kefir, kombucha, and tempeh. The reason fermented foods are good for the gut is because fermentation uses naturally occurring yeasts or bacteria to break down sugars in the food, creating a plethora of probiotic bacteria. If fermented foods aren’t to your taste, the pill-form probiotic supplements mentioned above are still clinically shownto help with digestion, balance intestinal microbiota, and boost the immune system.

Working out has also been linked to improved gut health and healthier gut bacteria. This should come as no surprise since exercise has been shown to improve every facet of life. The more physical activity a person performs, the more varied their internal microbiome is, which is great for gut health. Also, exercise boosts the rate of formation for short-chain fatty acids, which keep the gut healthy by controlling inflammation.

The gut’s microflora is connected to almost every function in the body. Before we can absorb the nutrients we need through eating food, those nutrients must be processed and digested by the gut. The gutbreaks the nutrients down into particles that are small enough for the body to absorb.Our bodies rely on enzymes to soak up nutrients and we also use gut bacteria to digest otherwise indigestible components of food such as fiber, which delivers a huge share of our body’s daily energy. Because of this, having a healthy, diverse microbiome is linked togetting a good night’s sleep, controlling weight, increasing mental acuity, and reducing fatigue. There are tests you can take at home to measure and check the microbiome in your gut. Knowing this information will help you find which foods to avoid, which foods to eat more of, and which probiotics are best for you.

Max Gottlieb works for Senior Planning. Senior Planning offers free services dedicated to helping seniors find and organize long-term care as well as extremely affordable estate planning solutions.

Previous Post Next Post