Gut health has become mainstream in recent years for a huge reason – it’s key because our gut carries out vital roles to keep our bodies functioning and our health in tip-top condition. Our microbiome, aka the trillions of microbial cells that live in our gut, has the power to influence our mood, digestion, and immune system and regulate blood sugar levels, just to name a few of those roles. Crazy, right? We have more microbial cells than we have human cells in our bodies.
With all this in mind, I want to share five easy tips for boosting gut health that everyone can start at any time!
Eat more fiber.
Try to incorporate more fiber in your meals, specifically in the form of greens. Consume about 4 to 5 cups daily of a variety of vegetables while also adding in some nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruit. Diversity is key! Think about eating the rainbow, and including in-season produce is even better – it punches more nutrition and flavor.
Cut processed foods.
Foods containing vegetable oils, refined sugars, gluten, and processed dairy are the worst offenders – they feed opportunistic bacteria that we want to keep under check! Choose healthy fats, protein, fiber/carbs, and some fermented food sources for a whole, balanced meal.
Drink apple cider vinegar before your meals.
Mix half a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a bit of water and drink it before your meals to stimulate hydrochloric acid (HCI) production. This not only keeps your stomach very acidic so no pathogens and opportunistic bacteria can survive, but it also helps your stomach break down food and better absorb nutrients.
Chew, chew, chew.
It may not sound sexy, new at all, or even important, but this tip is huge! How many of us eat on autopilot or eat on the go? Digestion starts in the mouth, and as we chew, we release enzymes that help us break down food. If we don’t chew patiently, we are overburdening our stomach with too much work, as well as stopping the enzyme release that can lead to nutrient malabsorption, constipation, feeling bloated, and overeating.
Lower your stress levels.
Stress releases cytokines that trigger an inflammatory response that leads to a leaky gut and a weakened immune system, which then opens the door to other gut/health issues. Every day, devote some time to practice activities that reduce your stress levels – whatever works for you! You’re probably wondering why I didn’t mention probiotics, right? They are so popular! While probiotics can be great gut support for many, if we don’t first work in on optimizing our digestion by applying some of the easy tips I shared above, probiotics won’t fix the implications that poor digestion causes.
If you are curious to know more about how you can support your gut and overall health, check out my Instagram feed for tips, recipes, and more.
Maite Bou is a Certified Functional Nutritionist who calls Chattanooga, Tennessee, home.
She has a passion for gut health and empowering women to thrive.
You can find her online at instagram.com/gutnutritionista/.