The examination of the human microbiome — the colony of 100 trillion bacterial cells that live in your gut — is a big focus of much recent research. It’s commonly known that gut health directly affects digestion, but are you aware of just how much it impacts your overall mental health too?
Your gut microbiota is in charge of breaking down and absorbing essential nutrients from your food. But the average American is not eating the right foods to actively provide their gut with the essential probiotics and prebiotics it needs for the gut to function properly. Without the proper tools for digestion, your body does not know what to do with the food given, leaving you with unnecessary bloating, irritability and weight gain.
But this is just the beginning…
The health of the gut, mental, and emotional body are inextricably linked. When the good bacteria in your digestive tract are depleted, bad bacteria can take over causing health issues. This imbalance causes your body to constantly secrete hormones to the brain signaling it to eat in order to provide it with the nutrients it needs. What’s more, researchers are finding that obese people have different gut bugs than healthy-weight people, suggesting that cultivating a proper gut garden may help send help it fight back against the invaders by feeding your beneficial bacteria the foods they—and you—need to stay healthy. Balancing your digestion will unlock all the other doors that your gut also affects.
So, if you have ever struggled with losing weight, anxiety, skin issues, fatigue, or chronic sickness, you might want to start looking at healing your gut. The good news is that you can empower your gut microbiota a
By giving it the proper probiotics, your body is no longer under a state of stress. Your gut can now harness nutrients from your diet which then in return, help balance your hormones. This is where you find a significant improvement in mood and mental clarity.
A menu for your microbiome
The key to a healthy microbiome may not only be what you put on your plate, but what you leave off it.
Researchers are finding that certain food additives, common in packaged and processed foods, may harm gut bacteria and, in turn, your overall health.
Two common emulsifiers (chemical agents used to give processed foods a smooth texture or extend their shelf life) were tested on mice and found to not only reduce levels of healthy gut bacteria and increase levels of inflammatory gut microbes, but also put them at increased risk of chronic disease.
Artificial sweeteners may also be a cause for concern. Often used in ‘diet’ or ‘sugarfree’ products, animal studies have shown that these additives disrupt the balance and diversity of gut bacteria.
The key to knowing what’s in your food is to use less packaged foods and build your diet around natural whole foods. Limit processed foods to have only every once and a while, check food labels for numbers and additives, and where possible, use simple natural ingredients and make your meals from scratch.
How to improve your gut health
1. Eat a Diverse Range of Foods
Think of your gut like a college admissions board: it likes diversity. There are hundreds of known bacterial species, and a happy gut should have a lot of them. Research is showing that the diversity (both the number of different species and the evenness of those species) of your microbiome is an important part of your health. In fact, a study in the journal Nature found that individuals with a low bacterial diversity were characterized by more overall adiposity, insulin resistance, abnormally elevated cholesterol and lipid levels in the blood and a more pronounced inflammatory phenotype. A diet rich in whole foods provides your gut with a variety of nutrients that help promote the growth of different types of bacteria, resulting in more diverse gut flora.
2. Add more Prebiotics into your Diet
Prebiotics are fibers and natural sugars that stimulate the good bacteria in the gut. Just like us, the bacteria in our gut also need food. The best foods for the job are fiber-rich like leafy greens, resistant starches—including potatoes, legumes, and raw oats—grains, bananas, and even dark chocolate contain varying fibers that fuel our gut bugs. In fact, a study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that eating resistant starch actually strengthens your gut biome. It’s because healthy bacteria literally get a workout digesting the stuff, becoming more dominant and leading to a cleaner, better-functioning gut. Prebiotics are a variety of fiber that goes through the gut undigested and promotes the activity of friendly gut bacteria. Many foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, naturally contain prebiotic fiber.
3. Get More Sleep
Our gut follows a daily circadian-like rhythm. Disrupting our body-clock with lack of sleep, shift work, or eating late at night can be harmful to our gut bacteria. When the body doesn’t get adequate sleep, it starts producing a hormone called Ghrelin, which triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure. Two days of sleep deprivation can cause small but impactful changes to gut flora while increasing the abundance of bacteria associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and fat metabolism. Being tired and hungry is a dangerous combination, often resulting in cravings for carbohydrates. Adequate amounts of sleep allow our bodies to de-stress from the day’s events, promoting healthy brain function, emotional wellness, and hormone regulation.
4. Consume More Probiotics
Probiotics can increase the abundance of healthy gut bacteria. When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance. They’ve been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major diseases. We can get more probiotics through supplements or fermented foods. Our handpicked blend of 12 probiotics, a.k.a digestive superheroes, are living ‘good bacteria’ microorganisms that help fight off harmful bacteria and pathogens found in the gut and GI tracts. They team up with your body’s healthy bacteria, Flora, to clear and prevent yeast and intestinal tract infections. When Flora is limited in the body, this powerful blend helps restore balance.
5. Eat More Raw
By nature, the human body is designed to function at its’ optimal potential with a diet that has a heavy emphasis on the consumption of raw foods. Not only are raw foods easy for the body to digest, but they also contain large numbers of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that our body needs to function. The naturally occurring enzymes in raw fruits and vegetables aid in the digestive process, helping breakdown cooked foods. At Betr Health, we aim for eating 70% of your daily fruit and veggies intake to be eaten raw.
Give your body what it wants, harness just how powerful and impactful your gut is, and live an overall betr life! 🙂