It’s hard to scroll your Insta feed or your Whole Foods aisles without coming across a buzzy wellness phrase: gut health. And while some health trends are a bit—well—fluff, gut health is often discussed with merit. Science shows us that the health of your gut is linked directly to immunity, cognitive health, skin health, cholesterol, organ function, and more. That’s a hearty list to consider.
Before we can learn how to heal our gut, it’s important to understand how it functions. The GI tract has a lining that acts as a barrier, which regulates which substances are absorbed into the bloodstream, according to Harvard Health Publishing. However in an unhealthy gut, the lining might have cracks or gaps, causing increased permeability. This might allow toxins, bacteria and other substances to move out from the gut and into the bloodstream. The result is a "leaky gut," which may be linked to inflammation and gut bacteria changes, according to Harvard Health Publishing.1
Context is important though. Keep in mind that the gut is supposed to be semi-permeable, as that is also how nutrients from food enter your bloodstream—no gut is a steel door. But if you suspect you’re dealing with a medical condition, it’s best to consult with your doctor to rule things out.
You may have also heard of the term “gut microbiome.” What does that mean, exactly? The term “gut microbiome” refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines. Each person has about 200 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi in their digestive tract. Some microorganisms are harmful to our health, but many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary for a healthy body. Research indicates that having a large variety of bacteria in the gut may help reduce the risk of conditions like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriatic arthritis.2
Each person has about 200 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi in their digestive tract.
Armed with Gut Biology 101 under our belt, read on for seven tips to boost your gut health.
7 Ways to Heal Your Gut
1. Stay Hydrated
Adequate water consumption is vital for your gut. H20 aids gut motility, nutrient absorption and waste removal thanks to bowel movements. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women need about 92 ounces (or 11.5 cups of water) per day. 3
2. Add a Probiotic
Filled with the aforementioned “good bacteria,” probiotics boost the health of your microbiome. And did you know that maternal health and diet play a critical role in the foundation of your baby’s gut microbiome? You’re laying the building blocks of their health, mama.
3. Embrace Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are a great dietary source of probiotics that help the health of your microbiome. Reach for the kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt or kombucha.
4. Get Enough Sleep
A consistent and ample sleep routine is an important part of keeping your gut healthy. Poor sleep habits can lead to an imbalance of gut bacteria, potentially contributing to inflammation and gut issues. This effect may be linked to the brain-gut-microbiome axis, the communication system between the gut and brain, according to a 2021 article in the journal of Sleep Medicine.1
5. Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber not only keeps things moving in your gut, it also promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Consider high-fiber foods including fruit, legumes, vegetables, and whole grains.1
6. Introduce a Prebiotic
Not familiar with prebiotics? Instead of containing healthy bacteria like probiotics, prebiotics provide “food” meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.1 These food compounds—mainly coming from fiber—do not get fully digested by the body which means they make it all the way through to the gut where they can feed probiotics. Think of prebiotics and probiotics as your dynamic gut-healing duo.
Not sure where to start with prebiotics? Perelel’s Synbiotic Greens Powder ($45) contains a daily prebiotic and probiotic blend with added antioxidants to take the guesswork out of your gut health supplements.
7. Limit Processed and Inflammatory Foods
It won’t surprise you that the quality of the food you eat affects the balance and health of your gut. Ultra-processed foods are often high in refined sugar which can trigger and worsen inflammation in the gut. Instead, focus on whole, fresh foods full of fiber—your gut healing bestie.1
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.