Episode 57 - Steps to Improve Gut Health
Gut health has become a hot topic lately, with research indicating that the state of the bacteria in the intestinal tract influences many elements of health.
Poor gut health is revealed by digestive conditions such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
The gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms in the form of bacteria and yeast, also called flora. The body depends on this flora to help regulate immune function, digestion, and intestinal mechanisms, and to help defend against infection and inflammation.
The immune system in particular depends upon a healthy balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, a state characterized by a predominance of "friendly" bacteria over the "bad" bacteria that can cause illness.
What could cause poor gut health?
Poor dietary habits (processed foods), environmental stressors (i.e. pollution), and adverse lifestyle practices (too much stress, not enough sleep, etc.) can cause harmful bacteria to override the GI tract.
Poor gut health could also cause issues outside of the intestinal tract such as allergies, asthma, acne, migraines, psoriasis, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disorders, and systemic inflammation.
This goes to show you the importance of focusing on gut health!
Gut bacteria account for approximately 80 percent of the immune system as well, plugging up holes in the gut lining so that pathogens can't enter and spread infection!
Steps to take to improve Gut health:
Reduce your intake of processed foods
Foods such as deli meats, cakes, biscuits, and chips are more likely to contain preservatives, emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners that may contribute to inflammation in the digestive system and have been linked to certain types of cancers such as stomach and colon cancer.
Limit alcohol consumption
Whilst small amounts of alcohol may have some health benefits, excessive consumption has been shown to harm gut health by causing inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. Alcohol can also delay the digestion process and contribute to the growth of bad bacteria.
Digestion starts in the mouth! Taking the time to slow down and chew your food properly is a very simple yet important aspect of good digestion and can also help to ensure you are extracting as much of the nutrients as possible from the food you’re eating. Eating in a calm, stress-free state can also help to ensure you’re properly breaking down food, and reduce symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation.
Healthy intestinal flora is promoted by the consumption of probiotics, which are healthful living organisms present in certain foods that, when consumed, take up residence in your digestive tract. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and fermented soy products (miso, tempeh).
Add Resistant Starch to your diet
Resistant starch boosts the integrity and function of your gut, flushes away harmful microbes, and even contributes to satiety. Recent research from the University of Toronto showed that supplementation with resistant starch decreased hunger and reduced subsequent food intake.Try taking concentrated sources of resistant starch such as potato starch, tapioca starch, or plantain flour, or emphasizing foods that are very high in resistant starch, such as green bananas, and or Cooked-and-Cooled Potatoes.
However, some people (especially those with compromised gut health) may want to proceed with caution, as it's possible to succumb to gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, constipation) from the sudden alternation in typical dietary habits. If you experience any digestive distress as you attempt to add potato starch or other resistant starches to your diet, reduce intake for a while.
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