Seventy percent of your body’s immune system lies in the most unlikely of places- your gut. The 5-8 POUNDS of bacteria in your gut acts as a mainline defense mechanism for your body- each bacterium a soldier in the fight. Keeping your gut healthy by ensuring you have more good bacteria than bad, is crucial to keeping the rest of you healthy.
There are a five keys to a healthy gut…
- Probiotics- Probiotics are your good (pro-) bacteria (-biotic). Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc are great natural sources. There are many probiotic supplements that will support gut health, too. Align and Culturelle are my favorite brands in America. (I will update this post once I’ve sourced a go-to for my UK friends.) Be sure to get a dose of probiotics every day.
- Prebiotics- Another interesting fact- those little bacterial soldiers are vegetarians. They feast on the fiber that travels through. This is just another reason why it is so important to have half your plate veggies and fruits.
- Cut down on sugars. Bad bacteria have a raging sweet tooth. Every time you indulge- whether it’s on Oreos, fruit juice, biscuits, or any other over-processed carbohydrate, you are giving your bad bacteria a feed. In healthy individuals can stand to do this more often than those prone to stomach issues. If you find yourself with digestive issues, do yourself a favor and tame your sweet tooth.
- Take time with your meals- Digestion starts in your mouth with the enzymes in your saliva. Put a small piece of bread in your mouth- don’t chew. Notice how the taste of the bread gets sweeter the longer it’s in there? That’s because the amylase in your saliva is breaking down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Will you hate me if I insert a chirpy “Science is fun!” here?
- Stop grazing. Your gut has a cleansing wave go through every 90-120 minutes, but only when fasting. If you snack often, you won’t allow your body the opportunity to initiate the cleansing wave. This can contribute to bloating, gas build up, and eventually overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in those with sensitive tummies.
- Sleep. If you are one of those that runs on 5 hours of sleep a night because you are so busy- stop it. Sleep is not for wimps. It is essential to keep you healthy so you can keep going. If it makes you feel any better, sleep is an active event. This is when your body does most of it’s restoration and repair. Get at least 7 hours.