Your gut health is far more important than you may have ever realised.
Health is not just about what you eat, but also about what you digest and absorb. If the digestive system is compromised, the body cannot properly digest and absorb nutrients. Good gut health can pave the way for your body to perform optimally. If your digestive system is unhealthy, then your body will not be able to absorb all the nutrients you need to enhance your performance. The gut contains millions of bacteria, consisting of many different species, each providing its own function.
Scientists have now labelled the gut as our second brain, and it has been linked to many other processes in the body. Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach? That is one of the signs of how strongly your brain influences your gut and vice versa. Mental concerns, such as anxiety, have been strongly linked to poor gut health, as well as physical conditions, such as acne and weight gain.
For a healthy gut, you want to focus on having a strong gut microbiome. This means having enough healthy bacteria, as well as a variety thereof. The gut consists of trillions of bacteria.
Digestive issues occur when we do not have enough healthy bacteria, or we lack a variety thereof. Poor gut health can actually reduce the body’s ability to use fat as energy, and signals the body to store it instead. This is not exactly ideal, because when the body runs out of glycogen stores for energy, it will resort to breaking down muscle instead of fat.
An imbalanced gut can also increase inflammation in the body, and has been linked to elevated levels of stress and anxiety.
Try to avoid antibiotics as much as possible, as they destroy both good and bad gut bacteria alike. If you must use them, make sure that you take probiotic supplements with them.
Healing previous damage to your gut lining is also essential, as well as consuming enough pre- and probiotics, while simultaneously increasing the number of digestive enzymes.
Avoid antibiotics as much as possible. They do not just destroy the bad bacteria, but kill all of the good bacteria in your digestive system as well. It can take years to restore the balance after antibiotic treatment. If you must take antibiotics, make sure that you supplement with probiotics, and eat probiotic-rich foods during treatment, and for months afterwards. Make sure that the supplements are refrigerated or come in opaque bottles, because the bacteria can die even before you take it, meaning that the probiotic content is usually far less than stated on the packaging. By refrigerating them, and reducing the amount of light that can enter, this risk is significantly reduced.
Cut out sugar and processed foods. Bad gut bacteria feed on these foods, thereby helping them to grow in population.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen can also damage the intestinal wall.
Reduce stress, as it has the same gut-damaging effects of an unhealthy diet. Stress can cause damage to the gut lining, and triggers changes in the gut microbiome.
Heal Your Gut Lining
A healthy gut does not have a permeable lining. Stress, as well as sugar and processed foods, actually eat away at our gut lining, causing something known as leaky gut. Food particles push through these gaps and enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation. We can help to heal the stomach in a variety of ways:
Consume collagen-rich foods, such as bone broth and gelatine. Taking collagen in supplement form is also an option. This not only helps to rebuild and repair the already damaged gut lining, but can also help prevent further damage in the future. Vitamin C helps increase the absorption of collagen.
Reduce stress, cut out sugar, and avoid processed foods, all of which can cause damage to the gut lining and make it more permeable.
Boost Digestive Enzymes
If the body is not able to make enough enzymes, digestive issues, such as bloating, nutrient deficiencies, acid reflux, indigestion, and anaemia can occur. In conjunction with good bacteria, digestive enzymes help break down our food, so the body can absorb the nutrients.
Glycine, found in gelatine, can help restore the healthy mucosal lining in the stomach, and helps create a balance of digestive enzymes, as well as stomach acid.
Eat enzyme-rich fruits and vegetables.
Ferment vegetables, as this increases the number of enzymes they contain.
Improve Gut Bacteria
Eat foods containing prebiotics, such as onions, leeks, raw garlic, and artichokes. These foods contain specific fibres, which feed the beneficial bacteria and help them grow in population. Also aim for a variety of fibre-rich foods, as different strains of bacteria feed on different kinds of fibre. You can supplement with probiotics as well. It is often better to choose refrigerated probiotic supplements, and ones that come in dark opaque bottles, in order to reduce the chances of the probiotics dying before you take them.
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other high-fibre foods, so that the gut bacteria have a diverse food source. Different strains of bacteria prefer varied foods. Having a variety of fibre-rich foods therefore ensures a greater assortment of gut bacteria. Foods containing resistant starch, such as legumes, oats, brown rice, green bananas, and potatoes especially help feed the gut microbiome, as this type of starch cannot be digested, and goes directly to the large intestine where it can feed bacteria. When you do eat potatoes or brown rice, cool them down first after cooking, as this increases the amount of resistant starch they contain.
Ginger helps the functioning of the digestive system by removing excess gas, and aiding in the digestion of protein and fat.
Drinking mint tea also aids digestion by relieving excess gas and indigestion
This blog post about optimal gut health is an excerpt from my eBook, The Superhuman Diet. The book focuses on how you can use diet to help you become your superhuman self. Optimal gut health takes time, but the health benefits are worth the effort. If you are interested to know more about how diet can help you become superhuman, download the eBook free by simply clicking below.