The saying to trust your “gut feeling” isn’t metaphoric. It’s real! The state of your gut can affect your mood, it is connected to your brain through a network of nerves and can affect the messages sent to your brain. In fact, 90% of serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone, is produced in your gut.
Your gut has a major influence on your immunity – 80% of your immune tissue is in your gut. Hence, the health of your gut directly impacts your overall immunity. People with poor gut health are more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases and mental issues such as depression and anxiety and physical symptoms such as fatigue, headache and weak immunity.
Your gut is home to millions of microbes and various strains of good and bad bacteria. When the good bacteria in your gut thrives, you’ll reap benefits like good digestion, optimum mental function, strengthened immunity and enhanced moods. However, our modern diet that consists of convenient and processed food that are high in sugars and saturated fat. These feed the bad bacteria while starving the good.
Here are five ways to have a healthier gut:
1. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are rich in probiotics, which are the friendly bacteria that reside in our gut. Yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kefir are good options.
2. Eat more prebiotic foods
Prebiotic fibre act like a source of fuel that encourage healthy gut flora and allow gut bacteria to thrive and flourish. Prebiotic foods include broccoli, banana, oats, apples.
3. More fibre, Less sugar
The single most important nutrient for the good bacteria to flourish is fibre. Whole grains, vegetables and fruit are rich in fibre that can’t be digested by our bodies but can be digested by good bacteria in our gut, which encourages their growth.
On the other hand, processed foods that are high in sugar and fat cause bad bacteria to go into overdrive and can wreak havoc on the balance of gut bacteria.
4. Manage stress levels
Our gut is extremely vulnerable to stress. Long term stress can lead to irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers. It’s important to regularly destress naturally through exercise, massages or meditation – whatever works for you!
5. Take antibiotics only when necessary
It could take your gut bacteria weeks, months or even years to get back its balance after a course of antibiotics. Always check with your doctor if antibiotics are necessary for treatment.