Stomach aches, bloating, indigestion - we’ve all been there. But these inconveniences don’t have to be a part of your everyday life. Learning about gut health can help you give your gut what it needs to function smoothly.
Keep reading for some tips and tricks on how to maintain a healthy gut...and a happier you!
What Is Gut Health?
The term “gut health” refers to the balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The collection of bacteria that lives in your gut is called the gut microbiota. Although bacteria is usually seen as a negative thing, not all bacteria are bad. The gut microbiota consists of both “bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria.
With the right type of bacteria in your gut, your body is able to metabolize nutrients from food correctly and protect your gut against intestinal infections. With the wrong type of bacteria, you can experience gassiness, bloating, diarrhea, indigestion, and overall tummy discomfort.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
If you experience stomach problems, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, 70 million people experience gut issues in the U.S. As these people know, gut problems affect your everyday life and make simple tasks all the more complicated. No one wants a tad-too-long trip to the loo during a date, a bathroom emergency mid-job interview, always having to drive with the windows down because you “like the fresh air”, or having to stay in due to a stomach ache.
However, gut health is not just about healthy bowel movements. In addition to creating comfortable and smooth digestion, a healthy gut is extremely important in maintaining overall health, even outside the intestines.
It’s simple: healthy gut, healthy you.
So, how can you restore gut health?
7 Easy Ways to Maintain a Healthy Gut
Although the gut works in mysterious ways at times, there are seven simple steps you can take in your everyday life to repair your gut and get that beneficial bacteria.
1. Increase Your Intake of Probiotics
Probiotics are good bacteria that can keep your gut working like a well-oiled machine. To get your healthy dose of probiotics, you can take a probiotic supplement and/or eat foods that are high in probiotics.
We’ve got you covered in the area of probiotics. Cleveland Kitchen’s one-of-a-kind dressing and krauts are rich in millions of probiotics that help support gut health. If you’re looking for ways to improve gut health, a quick drizzle of our dressing or sprinkle of kraut on any dish of your choice will do the trick.
2. Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are foods that are rich in probiotics and good gut bacteria. Fermented foods are common in Asian and European cultures, yet are less commonly found in the American diet.
At Cleveland Kitchen, we believe that fermented foods are the key to a healthy diet. We are dedicated to making them more readily available in the U.S. That is why we created our fermented dressings and krauts for an easy and delicious way to regularly consume fermented food.
3. Eat Less Sugar and Processed Foods
Eating a lot of sugar (especially artificial sweeteners) can lead to an increase in bad bacteria within the gut. Processed foods often contain added sugar, therefore also leading to poor gut health.
A 2015 study on the relationship between diet and the gut microbiota showed that the common Western diet, high in sugar, has a negative effect on gut health. This is why Cleveland Kitchen’s mission is inspired by the fermented, high-probiotic diet of Asia and Europe to bring fermented foods to the mainstream in the U.S. Our dressings have almost no sugar, with all varieties containing only 0-1g of sugar per serving.
4. Eat Prebiotic Fiber
Probiotics alone may sometimes be less effective without prebiotics. Prebiotics are special fibers in food that help good bacteria to grow in your gut.
Without prebiotics, probiotics may succumb to conditions within the gut, such as improper PH and temperature. By adding prebiotic fiber to your diet, your body can more readily absorb the good bacteria that comes from probiotics.
Source of Prebiotics
Sources of prebiotic fiber include foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, whole oats, flax seeds, seaweed, and leeks. Add these to your diet whenever possible and your gut will thank you!
5. Avoid Taking Unnecessary Antibiotics
Antibiotics are designed to eliminate sickness caused by bacteria. Therefore, they attack all the bacteria in the body, even the good bacteria that live in our gut.
Taking antibiotics can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbiota by killing the good bacteria we need for a healthy gut. Research on the recovery of the gut microbiota after antibiotics exposure reports that the gut still lacks some beneficial bacteria even 6 months after the use of antibiotics. So try to avoid antibiotics unless they are necessary (of course, follow your doctor’s advice)!
6. Exercise Regularly
Research on how physical activity changes our gut microbiota suggests that regular exercise can change the gut microbiota and reduce inflammation caused by a high-fat diet.
Although exercise is not as directly tied to gut health as diet-centered methods, exercise is beneficial for overall health and wellbeing, so it can never hurt.
Stress management is important for all parts of the body, the gut included. Studies done by the National Center for Biotechnology have shown that stress can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the microbiota and lead to poor gut health.
This is not only referring to psychological stress, but also environmental stress which can be caused by extreme temperatures or sleep deprivation.
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule of eight hours or more can be very beneficial to managing stress within the body. Try getting in bed earlier, and your gut may be better off for it.
Make Your Gut Happy
The human body can seem quite complicated at times, and addressing all the aches and pains can seem daunting. However, maintaining your gut health, whether you experience gut issues or not, is a simple step toward overall nutrition and balance.