Achieving a Healthy Gut
Although diet is always a key part of healthy digestion, many other factors influence what goes on in your gut. Sleep, hydration, and stress all play a role in how well the digestive system is functioning.
Here are seven healthy lifestyle tips to keep your gut working at its best:
Maintaining proper hydration is critical because water is absolutely vital to the digestive process. Water keeps food moving and flowing through the digestive tract and supports the mucous lining of the intestines. Poor hydration actually causes constipation.
Water actually supports healthy gut flora - the tiny positive bacterial microorganisms that live in the gut. These microbes support multiple foundational functions in the body, including waste elimination, immune function strength, and absorption of nutrients.
Keeping up your water intake helps your whole system run smoothly.
2. Take Time To Chew
It’s not a revelation, but chewing does matter for healthy digestion and it gets overlooked frequently. Taking the time to chew more per bite is linked to optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
Thoroughly chewing your food breaks it into smaller pieces, allowing it to better mix with important digestive enzymes in saliva. The simple act of chewing actually lights the fuse for the whole downstream digestive process.
It does this by telling the brain to begin releasing enzymes from the pancreas so that the small intestine is prepared for the incoming food from your stomach. The better digested the food, the more nutrients your body can mine from it.
On the flip side, swallowing food without much chewing overburdens the stomach, potentially leading to bloating, cramps, gas, and indigestion.
Although you hear advice on how many times to chew food, this can get robotic. Experiment chewing food the recommended 40 times to feel the texture of the food to get the idea. From here, just remember to chew until your food has a baby food-esque consistency.
3. Sleep Like A Baby
Poor sleep can wreck your gut health via disrupting your gut microbiome (ecology). Poor sleep has been linked in research to suboptimal gut bacteria reserves (microbiota).
Sleep drives everything, including gut health-to support your gut health and everything else via sleep, aims for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This means hitting the pillow, assuming you won’t fall asleep immediately.
4. Move & Train
Usually, you exercise to lose your gut, right? That’s not what we mean here!
Regular exercise is another helpful way to maintain a balanced, healthy gut environment. Believe it or not, movement and training positively affect both the quality and quantity of the positive bacteria in your gut.
Regular training to the tune of 2-5 times per week supports a healthy gut environment by supporting nutrient absorption, natural detoxification & elimination, increasing blood flow, and circulating oxygen & CO2 balances.
Be careful, though-overtraining can cause gut issues, so a properly periodized training program can help manage this potential issue.
5. Manage Your Stress Load
Chronic stress and/or emotional trauma is a common denominator across autoimmune conditions and chronic dis-ease in the body. One such way chronic stress is hard on the body is via your gut health. Prolonged bouts of high stress can decrease beneficial strains of gut bacteria while allowing problematic bacteria, such as E. coli and Enterobacteria to thrive by increasing in numbers.
Remember that the gut and brain are linked via the vagus nerve. Stress alters communication highways between your gut and brain.
These signals can help make or break gut motility, immunity, and regularity. Managing stress then becomes critical in order to protect the neuroimmune link of the gut and its status. Remember, stress can drive sympathetic, “fight/flight/freeze,” responses in the system, which is not an environment where the gut can properly digest and absorb nutrients. Don’t forget, the opposite of fight or flight is rest and digest. That is absolutely literal.
6. Use supplements that support gut health
Gaps in the food supply are very real-this is where focused nutritional supplementation can come into play to aid in gut health support. Consider the following:
Probiotics can promote digestive and intestinal health, including immunological defense regulation. Certain botanicals and fibers can help maintain healthy inflammatory responses in the G.I. (gastrointestinal tract), support regularity, and promote gut mucous membranes. Prebiotic fiber can help maintain regularity and gut flora environmental restoration. The use of exogenous ketones may also support healthy gut regularity and neuroimmune response.
7. Eat An Ancestral Diet
We’ve saved the best for last and it should come as no surprise-turns out eating right helps your gut health. Who knew? Eating a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods while limiting many neolithic (modern) pro-inflammatory foods such as refined sugar, wheat, gluten, certain pro-inflammatory grains, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats contained in industrial seed oils) is a foundation for a healthy gut.
This also means eating food from the right sources-organic foods properly nourished provide your gut microbiome with what it has evolved to tolerate. So keep it natural, baby.