A healthy gut creates a healthy body.
It is estimated that 60 to 70% of our immune system is in our gastrointestinal tract (aka the gut).
This makes sense, considering our gut is an extension of the external environment. The foods and drinks that we ingest are not sterile, so our body needs to be able to protect itself against any potential invading enemies, while at the same time properly breaking down and absorbing food and nutrients.
Without proper gut function, the food we eat will not be properly digested and absorbed.
What is the first step in improving your gut health?
Making changes to your diet, even small ones, can be challenging.
However, when we really pay attention to what our bodies need – then providing nourishing food to our body – we begin to actually feel better.
Eating a well-balanced diet can become a joyful experience when it comes from a place of listening to your body and responding by providing it with high quality fuel. At Papillex, our doctors recommend eating a diet that corrects nutritional deficiencies and improves the body’s immune response.
Why is gut health so complex?
Our digestive system used to be considered a relatively simple body system, however we now know that everyday life, including day-to-day stressors, eating processed, or sugar-laden foods, and getting too little sleep can damage our gut.
Something that experts in medical and wellness spheres alike are talking more and more about every day is the complexity of the gut and its importance to our overall health. Studies now show that there is an incredible connection between gut health and the immune system, autoimmune diseases, mental health, skin conditions, cancers and more.
Here are 4 ways to improve gut health, including foods to incorporate into your daily diet that can improve gut health and in turn support many other aspects of your health.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate:
We know that drinking water is good for us. Did you also know it could have an effect on your gut microbiome?
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day has been shown to balance the bacteria in the gut and to have a benefit to the lining of the intestines.
Drinking water will also help to flush out toxins and bad bacteria out your body through urination and by preventing constipation! Having proper elimination is key for your gut health, as constipation can cause bacterial fermentation… NOT good!
2. Add a mix of the following foods into your diet:
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi.
- Legmues like lentils, beans, chickpeas and vegetables.
Try adding new foods to promote gut health onto your weekly shopping list too such as coconut yogurt, bone broth, dairy-based yogurt (as long as you are not sensitive to dairy), and fermented beverages, like kefir or kombucha.
While adding these probiotic- and fiber-rich foods into your diet, making an effort to avoid processed foods and decrease sugar content will have a big impact on your gut health, decreasing inflammation in particular.
3. Cruciferous vegetables:
A study looked at the role of diet in immune function and found that compounds found in cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) help promote intestinal immune function.
Yet another reason to love broccoli and its secret ingredient, sulphoraphane.
Try incorporating cruciferous vegetables as half of your veggie servings every day! Keep in mind that cruciferous vegetables can be goitergenic, damaging to the thyroid, but you can avoid this by lightly cooking all crucifers. Flash steaming or boiling, or a quick sauté should do the trick!
4. Supplement with a prebiotic or probiotic:
Prebiotics are fuel for the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics are the actual good bacteria.
Unless you have a perfect gut and are already eating lots of fermented foods, it can sometimes be difficult to get all of the probiotics you need from diet alone.
Buying your supplements from a reputable health food shop or consulting your naturopathic physician can ensure the quality of the supplement is up to par.
Signs that perhaps you are not digesting food properly?
The evidence is in the toilet. Ideally, you should be emptying your bowels every day. Stools should be well formed, medium brown, flush easily and leave no streaks in the toilet. You also should not have to strain excessively to go.
Check out some of our other blogs to learn more about improving your diet for positive health outcomes!