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Your gut health is more important than you think! In fact, maintaining a healthy gut is vital for mental and physical health, your immunity and much, much more. 

But just how do you go about improving the healthy bacteria in your gut? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first explain what your gut health refers to. 

What is a healthy gut?

Good question. 

Basically, your gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms living in your digestive tract. Your gut flora or gut microbiome refers to the bacteria and fungi that inhabit your gastrointestinal tract. These microorganisms have a big influence on your metabolism, weight, your body’s ability to defend itself against invading bacteria and viruses, your appetite and your mood. 

It’s crazy to think that the little organisms in our guts play a role in our mood and our weight, but it’s true! When we start to look at it this way, it makes sense as to why it’s important for us to ensure our guts are healthy. 

And here are 5 ways to do so…

1. Eat more fermented foods and take a daily probiotic

An article in Harvard Health examines the benefits of probiotics for our health. Probiotics have a range of benefits and gut health is the biggest of the lot! 

Probiotics are known as good bacteria, they are found in fermented foods such as yoghurt or you can also take them in the form of supplements. 

Probiotic supplements are a great way to ensure you are getting enough healthy bacteria in your diet. A number of people have found probiotics to be beneficial for effect on the gut in alleviating issues such as diarrhoea, IBS, bladder infections and even eczema in kids. 

It’s a good idea to chat with your pharmacist or doctor regarding what probiotic you should take. 

Fermented foods include: 

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso

While you’re here, have a look at our article on supplements you need to add to your daily vitamin list (hint – we chat about probiotics here!). 

2. Eat more fibre

You need to include a wide range of fruits, veggies and whole grains in your diet. It turns out, your mom was right when she told you to eat your greens! 

Fruits and vegetables are naturally high in fibre. What’s interesting is that your body cannot digest fibre, but it can be digested by certain bacteria found in your gut and fibre stimulates the growth of these healthy bacteria. 

Some fibre-rich foods include: 

  • Artichokes
  • Lentils 
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans 
  • Whole grains (whole grain oats, pasta and bread)
  • Brocolli
  • Green peas 
  • Raspberries

A great idea is to start your day with a blended shake! 

Put half a cup of dry oats, some frozen raspberries and protein shake powder into the blender with a cup of your milk of choice (yoghurt would also be great for probiotics). Blend and enjoy! 

3. Stay away from artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have an adverse effect on your gut health and can cause an imbalance of gut microbes. 

A study done on rats found that aspartame (an artificial sweetener found in a number of fizzy drinks) was able to reduce their weight gain but increased their blood sugar levels and impaired their body’s response to insulin. Yikes! So the next time you’re craving a Coke Zero, rather have a glass of water with lemon and mint. 

Or better yet, make your own ice tea! Here are some great recipes to try! 

4. Reduce your stress levels

Yoga

 

Now, I get that this is always easier said than done, but managing your stress is important for a variety of vital aspects of your health, one of these is your gut health. 

Managing your stress can be done through a number of ways. Here are some easy ones to implement in your daily life: 

  • Get more sleep – You need to get 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. 
  • Workout – Regular exercise will not only boost your mood, confidence and your mental wellbeing, but you will also get better sleep and feel great! We chat about this in the next point. 
  • Meditate – Download Calm or Headspace and prepare to have your entire mindset changed. 
  • Breathing techniques – The next time you feel anxious or stressed, breathe in deep for 4 seconds and out for 4 seconds. Repeat this as many times as you need to. 
  • Eat right – Check out these 3 recipes to boost your mental health

5. Exercise

Regular exercise contributes to weight loss, weight maintenance, good heart health and great gut health. 

Studies have found that regular exercise helps create a wide variety of good bacteria in your gut. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week with at least 2 strength training activities on 2 or more days a week. 

Here are some great workouts to get you started! 

Need some expert help? Have a look at why it pays to have a wellness coach in this blog

What it comes down to

Your gut bacteria play an important role in many aspects of your health. The best way to maintain a healthy gut is to eat right, get enough sleep, reduce your stress and take part in regular exercise. 

The trick is to create a healthy lifestyle as opposed to the ‘get-fit-fast’ or ‘lose-weight-now’ approach. And it all starts with a healthy and determined mindset.

Gemma Oberholzer

About Gemma Oberholzer

I guess you can say I'm a serial self-improver. Since I was a kid I can remember being weirdly thrilled at the idea of learning something new and figuring out how to use that new found knowledge to better myself. This perpetual learn-grow itch eventually lead me to the field of Health and Wellness and it's here I've been, fascinated for the last 8 years of my study and work life. From Human Life Scientist and learning the mechanics of physiology and intricacies of metabolic biochemistry, to Food and Nutrition Scientist where I deepened my understanding of diet and it's key role in human performance and health. Geared with this comprehensive education and better appreciation for human health, I've since been able to practically apply this in my career through the fields of research, product development, brand management and marketing. In 2018, I was finally able to bring all these learnings together and so my passion project, WellBe&Co, was born. WellBe&Co is a personal and corporate wellness company specializing in easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions. It's here that I've gained invaluable insights into the human-side of the health and wellness industry in a way that has enabled me to provide relevant content and value-adding services to individuals and companies alike and live out our mission to build communities that know better and grow together through better health.

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