When it comes to our fitness, gut health is often an overlooked factor. Beyond its role in digestion, this intricate network of microorganisms plays a important role in our physical and mental health.
Let’s uncover the importance of gut health, its role in our well-being, and how to improve gut health with lifestyle changes.
What is Gut Health?
Gut health refers to a diverse intestinal gut microbiota community.The gut alone contains around 1000 bacterial species out of the 100 trillion bacteria in the human body. All of these bacterial species impact your overall health and well-being.[i] Luckily, you can influence the bacterial community in your digestive system and doing so can help nourish a healthy gut.
Why is Gut Health Important?
Gut health refers to a diverse intestinal gut microbiota community. A balance of bacteria has a positive impact on gastrointestinal and immune function.[ii] Here’s how gut health can improve your day-to-day:
Reduces fatigue. Feeling sluggish and fatigued can make it hard to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. Turns out your gut health has an impact on fatigue. Fighting fatigue could be as easy as changing your diet to influence a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.[iii]
Reduces bloating. Intestinal gas forms when bacteria in the intestine feed on the nutrients you consume. A buildup of gas or slow gas transit may result in bloating. Even the slightest change in the bacterial environment of your digestive system could cause increased gas and bloating. A healthy gut microbiome is important to prevent or reduce gas and bloating.[iv]
- Improves energy levels. The afternoon slump is real. But it can be prevented. Turns out there is a community of distinct gut microbiota that have an impact on energy levels.[v] With the right gut support, you can assist your body’s natural energy production.
How to Improve Gut Health
You can influence the bacterial community in your digestive system and doing so can help nourish a healthy gut.
Changing the landscape of your gut microbiome is easier than you think. So what helps with gut health?
Generally speaking, you can improve your gut health by focusing on adopting a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, and fiber while incorporating probiotics and prebiotics. Stay hydrated, manage stress, prioritize adequate sleep, and engage in regular exercise.[vi]
Gut Health Foods
1. Fiber-Rich Carbohydrates
- Whole-grains and cereals like oatmeal and oat bran
- Legumes – chickpeas, lentils, etc.
- Chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds
2. Fresh Produce
3. Fermented Foods
[i] Guinane CM, Cotter PD. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul;6(4):295-308. doi:10.1177/1756283X13482996
[ii] Guinane CM, Cotter PD. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013 Jul;6(4):295-308. doi:10.1177/1756283X13482996
[iii] Hajjar J, Mendoza T, Zhang L, Fu S, Piha-Paul SA, Hong DS, Janku F, Karp DD, Ballhausen A, Gong J, Zarifa A, Peterson CB, Meric-Bernstam F, Jenq R, Naing A. Associations between the gut microbiome and fatigue in cancer patients. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 12;11(1):5847. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-84783-9
[iv] Lacy BE, Gabbard SL, Crowell MD. Pathophysiology, evaluation, and treatment of bloating: hope, hype, or hot air? Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2011 Nov;7(11):729-39. PMID:22298969
Boolani A, Gallivan KM, Ondrak KS, Christopher CJ, Castro HF, Campagna SR, Taylor CM, Luo M, Dowd SE, Smith ML, Byerley LO. Trait Energy and Fatigue May Be Connected to Gut Bacteria among Young Physically Active Adults: An Exploratory Study. Nutrients. 2022 Jan 21;14(3):466. doi:10.3390/nu14030466
[vii] Guan ZW, Yu EZ, Feng Q. Soluble Dietary Fiber, One of the Most Important Nutrients for the Gut Microbiota. Molecules. 2021 Nov 11;26(22):6802. doi:10.3390/molecules26226802
[viii] Portincasa P, Bonfrate L, Vacca M, De Angelis M, Farella I, Lanza E, Khalil M, Wang DQ, Sperandio M, Di Ciaula A. Gut Microbiota and Short Chain Fatty Acids: Implications in Glucose Homeostasis. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jan 20;23(3):1105. doi:10.3390/ijms23031105
[ix] Lakshmanan AP, Mingione A, Pivari F, Dogliotti E, Brasacchio C, Murugesan S, Cusi D, Lazzaroni M, Soldati L, Terranegra A. Modulation of gut microbiota: The effects of a fruits and vegetables supplement. Front Nutr. 2022 Sep 23;9:930883. doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.930883
[x] Patel P, Butani K, Kumar A, Singh S, Prajapati BG. Effects of Fermented Food Consumption on Non-Communicable Diseases. Foods. 2023 Feb 4;12(4):687. doi:10.3390/foods12040687