It seems now more than ever being healthy means being mindful of all the healths we have (like physical, mental, emotional, etc.) and optimizing (as broadly, effectively, and efficiently as possible) the body’s major systems, vital organs, their functions, and more to create harmony and balance across all our interactive healths. Maybe you’ve thought about it, maybe you haven’t, but when it comes to overall health and wellness, gut health is a big one.
Gut Bacteria – A Good Biome
While our whole body supports about 10,000 microorganisms to help our different health, our digestive system contains a complex relationship of 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. This is called the “gut microbiome” and refers specifically to the microorganisms living in the intestines. And while we tend to think that microorganisms can be harmful to our body, many provide benefits, and are even essential, for good health. Gut health influences emotional health, spiritual health, mental health as well as physical health. In fact, chronic stress and gut health are linked and have a significant effect on each other.
Additionally, 70% of immune system health is connected to our gut health. Attention to digestion and the system it belongs to is paramount to better, broader health and wellness. The body’s immune system has a symbiotic relationship with how your gut operates. Studies within the past few years have discovered how the gut biome plays an essential role in immune cell recruitment and differentiation and has an impact on how the body reacts to overall immunity and immunologic diseases.1
So you want to have a healthy gut biome – but how can you help it? Well, there are several helpful tips for maintaining good gut health – some of which are exactly like some of our previous advice for good, proactive health:
- Get a healthy amount of sleep
- Keep your body hydrated with water
- Find ways to manage your stress
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol intake
- Eat fiber-rich foods
Unsurprisingly, your regular diet plays a HUGE role in setting the condition of your biome.
Gut microbes get most of their nutrients from our diet and help us digest much of the food we ingest. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that diet has a huge impact on what fuels our biome.
Modern diets that prioritize high levels of animal protein, saturated fats, simple sugars and salt, can have detrimental effects on your biome. So what should you prioritize? Try to make sure you’re getting some of the following:
- High fiber foods (beans, oats, green vegetables)
- Fermented foods (kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut)
- Collagen boosting foods (mushrooms, salmon, bone broth)
After all, your gut takes in food, digests the food you eat, absorbs nutrients, then uses the nutrients for energy. Nutritional replenishment is a function of your gut. In addition to consuming the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs, incorporating the following foods helps supports your good biome:
- Lean Meats (fish, chicken, turkey)
- Oats and Barley
- Whole Grains
- Leafy Greens
Digestive health and the rest of our healths are intertwined and related. Each affects the others. The ways in which our different healths are best maintained are often similar. (Nutrients and nutrition are almost always included in any discussions about health and wellness). Give your gut and good biome what they need.
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