It’s Time for a Gut Check
On a daily basis you can look in the mirror, step on the scales or take note of how your clothes fit and receive a clue as to what is going on with your body. Are your pants looser than usual? Have you noticed the scale going down since you began cutting calories? Your outward appearance is a great indicator of how your daily fitness routine (or lack thereof) and diet are impacting your whole-body health. But what about the internal–the systems that you can’t easily see on a daily basis? We’re talking about digestion. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and effective digestion, and can even help prevent some cancers and autoimmune diseases.
How do I know if my gut is unhealthy?
High-sugar, low-fiber diets can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This can cause increased sugar cravings, which can cause damage to the gut. Are you noticing a frequent upset stomach or unintentional weight changes? These are both indicators that something may be wrong internally. Food intolerances, autoimmune conditions and skin irritation may also clue you in to a gut that needs a little TLC.
Improving Gut Health
One of the first places to start is with proper hydration. Drink more water! Dehydration is a major cause of occasional constipation and is your gut’s way of telling you it needs water. Also, make sure you are eating foods rich in probiotics. With hundreds of microorganisms in your gut called flora, your gut flora has good and bad bacteria that has to be kept in balance for overall health. Probiotics like yogurt, kombucha, cottage cheese and sauerkraut can all help maintain a proper balance of good bacteria. They may also aid in improving digestive health, have been linked to reducing depression and promoting heart health.