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How to Improve Your Gut Health by Megan Johnson Mccullough

Improve Gut Health

Improve gut health - (Image Credit: Shutterstock); Author picture - (Image Credit: Author)

Whenever we hear the term, “guts” we picture a rather disgusting mess of organs and tissues all intertwined. Common expressions include: “You don’t have the guts to do that”, “You can see all the blood and guts”, or “My gut instinct tell me I shouldn’t or should do that”. Your gut is the abbreviated term for your gastrointestinal system.

This includes your mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, appendix, rectum, and anus. You can see this top down system is a major operation in your body. The synergy of each component is needed for efficient functioning. “Good” gut health refers to problem free digestion. This means no bloating, no discomfort, and no upset stomach.

Another aspect of gut health includes the makeup of the trillions of microorganisms living in your gut. These are called microbiomes which perform a lot of important tasks for your gut. This includes supporting the immune system, excreting waste products, using the vitamins from foods as well as digesting and absorbing these nutrients, and protecting the body from pathogens you might digest.

A Few Pieces Of Advice To Consider When Evaluating Your Personal Gut Health:

Personal Gut Health

1. No news is good news, meaning if you feel like what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel after are good to go, then let it be. Don’t fix what isn’t broke. Just because you hear the latest trend on how to improve your gut, doesn’t mean you need to add it into your regimen if your regimen is already successful. Less is more and simple is better for your body.

2. Sleep is important so think of these 7 to 8 hours a time that your gut can just work with no interruptions for you.

3. Eat more slowly which helps to break down food more thoroughly and let’s your body absorb more of the nutrients you are eating.

4. Take a prebiotic or probiotic. Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are live good bacteria. A healthcare provider can help you select a supplement appropriate for you. These assist with all the operations taking place in your gut.

5. Drink water and then some more water. This helps with the lining of the intestines and keeps bacteria balanced.

You may not even be aware that your gut is associated with some issues you have been having. There are signs your body will communicate to you if your gut is not exactly up to par.

Here Are Some Considerations:

Stomach Upset
1. Are you experiencing a chronic case of upset stomach? Feelings of discomfort more often than not such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, and/or heartburn mean that something. When your gut is unbalanced, that is why it is having trouble processing food.

2. Have you had unintentional shifts in your weight?

3. Do you eat a lot of sugar in your diet? This actually decreases the amount of good bacteria in your gut so think about how much processed food you are having.

4. Have you had any skin irritation or rashes? Inflammation in your gut may be causing this because your body is responding to a food allergy.

5. Are you having trouble sleeping or feeling tired a lot? Serotonin is found in your gut and because of this hormone, your mood is regulated. Therefore, if there is damage in your gut you may not be sleeping well and in turn your moods are negatively impacted.

What you can do without too much effort to improve your gut health is to focus on eating certain types of foods and incorporating them into your diet. You might even lose weight because you start to eliminate food that comes out of a box and eat more fresh produce. You want to eat foods that promote good bacteria in your gut, not food that is diminishing it.

Try To Add These Foods Into Your Daily Diet:

Boost Gut Health
1. Garlic and onion: These can boost your immunity which can then boost your gut health.

2. High fiber containing foods: Fiber is a big worker for your gut. Think of these foods as positive helpers so try to eat more beans, oats, peas, bananas, berries, and legumes.

3. Fermented foods: These can help prevent inflammation so try to eat kimchi, kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

Your gut also appreciates exercise. You release positive endorphins that enter your gut as well because the serotonin is located there. Movement gets the system going and the blood pumping, versus sedentary behaviors that leave your system stagnant.

A couple habits to drop include stop smoking and avoid taking antibiotics unless necessary. Smoking is adding toxins into your body, which just adds to your gut’s to-do list to eliminate. Antibiotics damage the good bacteria and over time can impede your immunity.

Brain & Gut Relationship

Brain and Gut Relationship
As you can tell, this information is nothing that you haven’t heard before, but the reality is actually putting these recommendations into practice. Some have argued that your gut is like your second brain. Your gut is in constant communication with your brain.

The hormones that the gut releases into your bloodstream communicate to the brain and tell you how to feel or even if you are hungry. It contains over 100 million nerve cells. Your gut communicates taste and smell as well. Faster than you can blink your body receives signals from your gut. This means that your gut is in constant interaction with your brain.

Gastroenterologists have become flooded with irritable bowel cases (IBS) due to today’s eating culture. In fact, sometimes antidepressants are used to treat IBS because of the serotonin connection in the gut. In America, nearly 25 to 45 million people suffer from IBS.

Think of all the new eating trends we are flooded with ads and information about. Some say vegan, others say keto. In either case, some type of food is being eliminated from your body in order to improve your gut health which can lead to changes in your metabolism and of course your digestive system.

The problem is that culturally, eating is a constant part of our lives be it socially or just because we do have to eat to live. Products are designed to make us crave and desire more with the effects of sugar and caffeine. Desserts are celebratory, alcohol is a social and personal outlet, and cooking for others is a sign of appreciation or love.

Offering food, brining food, baking food, and sharing recipes can be traditional and complimentary depending on the situation. What is a birthday party without birthday cake? What is happy hour without a few cocktails? How can plan ahead and meal prep with so little time that you have? How can you make exercising regularly fit into your schedule?

Reality is that our gut health needs us to stop making these excuses that center upon temptation, dopamine, and convenience. You are the boss of your body so truly what you do and consume results in how your gut operates. Genetics do have a role, but modifiable lifestyle changes can assist with the progression of gut related problems.

Good Intestine

Start today…..

1. Look at your refrigerator and realize how much of it is filled with processed or bottled items. Maybe it’s time to clean it our or at least not buy anymore once it is gone.

2. Plan out time to cook, yes cook and prepare what you will eat this week. Make a commitment to not eat out more than once this week.

3. Plan out time to exercise and even if it beginning with going for walks, then take those steps and get moving.

4. Make a bed time and stick to it. Turn off the T.V., put down the work, your gut needs you to rest.

5. Get rid of unnecessary supplements you are taking. Let food provide the nutrients you need.

Today we have lactose intolerance, celiac disease, IBS, thyroid problems, liver problems, you name it. The common culprit is most likely food, and the common victim is your gut. Sometimes we hear that everything in moderation is okay, but your gut doesn’t respond that way when something foreign enters the system.

That means that elimination might be necessary. If you have experienced and problems related to your gut, think about eliminating items to target what could be causing them. You might have to give up foods you once enjoyed, but they’re only good going down, not later.

You make the mistake every time thinking it won’t happen again, but certain foods are repeat offenders to your gut you truly do have to let them go once and for all. Processed food is the big one to get rid of.

We live in a world where bottled and boxed rules, but it’s time we took our eating habits into our own hands and start using our Tupperware and making food ourselves. Change is uncomfortable at first, but it will change the discomfort taking place in your gut.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.
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Megan Johnson McCullough

Bodybuilder, Author, and Fitness Model

Megan Johnson McCullough is the owner of Every BODY’s Fit, fitness studio in Oceanside CA. She is an NASM Ma...

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