Eating the right foods is one of the best ways. Your gut microbes like to eat, too, and their favorite foods are the ones that are healthiest for us: fruits, vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), legumes (beans, peas), and whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice). “Those foods contain fiber. Our bodies don’t break down fiber for food; fiber passes through to the gut and microbes feed on it. It gives them a good environment to grow,” explains April Pawluk, strategic program manager at the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center. But when you eat an unhealthy diet with lots of processed, fatty, sugary foods, it makes it harder for helpful microbes to survive. “In the absence of diversity-promoting nutrients like fiber in our diets, the genes of our gut microbiome can produce chemicals that could increase our risk for developing different diseases,” Pawluk says.
First things first, just by acknowledging the fact that you may need to improve your gut health is already a foot in the right direction. Most people don’t know how important their gut is and how much it dictates our life. It may seem odd since most people believe that we make most of our decisions from our brain, which is true, but some would argue that the gut pulls the strings and is in control of the brain.
Most people don’t think about this because they don’t have any issues. But if you or know someone that has had a gut health issue, you definitely understand how powerful the gut actual is. If we are not getting the nutrients from our food which should be absorbed in the gut, our cognitive ability will start to decline and make mistakes.
When I was super sick during one of my worse flare ups with Ulcerative Colitis, all I could do was get up to move from one play to another to get rest. I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t really communicate with people around me, and on top of that my mood was flipped upside down. I am usually a calm person, easy going, but when my gut was off, I would snap at people and not even think twice about it.
So why am I writing all this when the question was about gut health? Well I want to make sure you understand that you may have been dealing with gut health issues for quite some time and not have even known it. Because of this, it may take some time for the gut to full heal back up and you shouldn’t get frustrated if it takes weeks, months, or even longer.