Simple ways to support your gut health
The gut has been a hot topic in the health world these days. When we talk about gut health, we're really talking about the microorganisms living in your digestive tract; in other words, your gut microbiome.
While many microbes benefit our health, others can negatively impact our wellbeing. Balance is key. For those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic gut and digestive issues, taking care of gut health is critical for a balanced, fulfilling lifestyle.
In general, there's research indicating the link between gut balance and mental health, indicating that people with healthy digestive tracts tend to suffer less from anxiety, depression, and other neurochemical imbalances.
If you're someone dealing with digestive issues or you're just looking to improve your overall health, we've compiled some simple ways to promote gut health. If symptoms persist, please seek a doctor's opinion as these issues could indicate a bigger issue.
If you're dealing with digestive issues, it can be difficult to know exactly which foods are causing those nasty symptoms. Going on an elimination diet is a useful way to pinpoint the culprit(s).
Low-FODMAP Diet for Beginners: $13.43 at Amazon
If you suffer from IBS, chances are high your physician has mentioned the low-FODMAP diet as a way to reduce uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and gas. This diet works by eliminating a class of carbohydrates, known as FODMAPs, and eventually reintroducing them back into the diet to determine the root cause of the symptoms.
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom: $16.45 at Amazon
If you're dealing with digestive issues but they're not severe enough to warrant a medical elimination diet, consider Whole30. It's an excellent way to remove inflammatory foods, including foods that commonly cause digestive issues from your diet. Once the 30 days are up, the Whole30 book helps you reintroduce eliminated foods back into your diet to determine what's causing your symptoms.
Taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements can be an effective way to ensure getting the nutrients your gut microbiome needs to keep you healthy.
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+: $30.23 at Amazon
Taking a probiotic pill can be an effective way to add good bacteria to your gut, particularly after a round of antibiotics, which tends to wipe out both the bad and the good bacteria in your gut. The Garden of Life Mood+ Probiotics are formulated especially for emotional wellbeing and gut support.
BioSchwartz Prebiotics for Advanced Gut Health: $20.97 at Amazon
While probiotics are the living bacteria and yeast that populate the gut microbiome, prebiotics are the soluble fibers and resistant starches that bacteria and yeast consume. Everyday sources of prebiotics include fermented foods. BioSchwartz is a fiber-based prebiotic formulated to only feed good bacteria.
You are what you eat, and that's especially true when it comes to gut health. A diet high in sugar and artificial sweeteners can lead to gut dysbiosis -- an imbalance in the gut microbiome. Reducing sugar and adding fermented foods, which contain prebiotics and probiotics, to your diet can go a long way in promoting healthy gut flora. These foods include kefir and yogurt, fermented veggies, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
Kilner Fermentation Set: $39.95 at Amazon
Yes, there's a whole aisle of fermented veggies at the grocery store, but what's more satisfying than popping open a jar of your very own homemade sauerkraut? The Kilner Fermentation Kit provides you with everything you need. If you're nervous about getting started, we suggest investing in The Art of Fermentation to guide you through the process.
Deluxe Kombucha Brewing Kit: $74.99 at Amazon (was $85)
Drinking kombucha is another way to promote a healthy gut. If you're tired of paying $3+ for a bottle of the fizzy stuff, consider making your own. It's relatively easy and you get to control the flavor by selecting your favorite teas and add-ins for brewing. The Deluxe Kombucha Brewing Kit is the most comprehensive kit we've tested. It even includes bottles for storing and drinking.
Instant Pot DUO60 Electric Pressure Cooker: $79 at Amazon (was $99.95)
Yogurt, and its drinkable cousin kefir (a fermented milk drink often called the "champagne of dairy"), are another great source of probiotics. You can make both of these gut-healthy treats in the Instant Pot's yogurt maker. The one-touch smart program lets you set the pressure cooker to the "yogurt" setting and get on with your day.
Other ways to support your microbiome
You can also promote gut health is by getting enough sleep, exercising, reducing stress in all forms, and cutting out bad habits like smoking. You might try using a Fitbit Smartwatch to track your activity levels and sleep patterns, so you can make sure you're getting enough exercise and quality sleep. If you think you may be suffering from chronic gut and digestive issues, we'd suggest working with your physician to find a course of action that works best for you.
Meredith Gallo is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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