Did you know that your gut is home to roughly 100 trillion viruses, yeasts, and bacteria? The collection of these microorganisms is also known as “gut flora” or “gut microbiome.” At Thin MD Med Spa in Jacksonville, FL, we understand the importance of a healthy gut to your mental and physical health. Read on to learn how 2020 can be the start of a happier, healthier life with these eight things you can do to improve your gut health in 2020.
8 Ways to Improve Gut Health Today
1. Don’t Diet
Diet foods advertised as “low-fat” or “fat-free” are loaded with sugar or sugar substitutes. This wreaks havoc on your gut. Rather than buying artificial, heavily processed “diet” foods, stick with foods and beverages which are as close to whole as you can. For example, instead of reaching for a Sprite, make a glass of sparkling water infused with lemon and lime. Similarly, making your own orange juice with fresh, local oranges is far better for you than reaching for a carton of Florida’s Natural OJ.
Research has shown for years that consuming too much sugar and artificial sweeteners is devastating to a healthy gut, causing an imbalance of gut microbiomes known as gut dysbiosis. Aspartame, in particular, is infamous for increasing the level of bacterial strains that cause metabolic disease. In turn, metabolic disease increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Do yourself a favor and steer clear of so-called diet products.
2. Reduce Stress
Have you ever become sick in the midst of a crucial, month-long project at work? A healthy gut plays a major role in keeping your immune system healthy and strong. When the health of your gut fails, your immune system weakens, and you are far more likely to become ill. Several types of stressors can negatively affect the health of your gut, including chronic sleep deprivation, the disruption of your circadian rhythm, psychological stress, and physical stress (extreme noise or temperatures).
Meditating every morning, practicing deep breathing exercises on your lunch break, and performing progressive muscle relaxation before bed are all great stress management techniques. However, it is also important that you sleep well, exercise regularly, and eat healthy foods. If you’re struggling to meet your recommended daily allowance of certain nutrients, like zinc, schedule a 60-minute call with a licensed nutritionist.
3. Stop Smoking
If you smoke to relieve stress, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, smoking affects the health of your heart, lungs, and gut. A 16-year study of smokers found that smoking decreases the number of good bacteria in your gut while increasing the number of potentially harmful microorganisms. As a result, you may develop systemic or intestinal medical conditions, such as IBD (irritable bowel disease) or IBS-D (irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea).
4. Eat Prebiotic Fiber
You’re probably aware that probiotics work with the good bacteria in your gut to keep it healthy. What you may not have known is that probiotics feed on prebiotics, non-digestible carbohydrates, which encourage the good bacteria in your gut to multiply. To get more prebiotics in your diet, take a probiotic supplement with prebiotic fiber and eat more of these foods and spices:
- Whole grains
- Jerusalem artichoke
5. Take Probiotics and Eat Fermented Foods
Probiotic supplements are essential after you have run a course of antibiotics. As mentioned previously, you should look for probiotic supplements that include prebiotic fiber. Even if you haven’t taken antibiotics recently, you can still benefit from probiotic supplements if you suffer from intestinal problems, such as gut inflammation.
In addition to probiotics, you may choose to add more fermented foods and drinks into your diet. Excellent sources of probiotics include:
- Fermented vegetables
- Certain types of yogurt
6. Take Antibiotics As a Last Resort
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 70% of prescriptions for antibiotics are medically necessary. While you may need to take antibiotics to help your body fight bacterial infections, overuse leads to antibiotic resistance. This means antibiotics will be less effective in the future.
Moreover, antibiotics attack both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. As many as six months after a course of antibiotics, people who did not follow up antibiotics with prebiotic fiber and probiotics lacked several species of healthy gut bacteria. If you come down with an illness, ask a trusted physician about all your options before you take antibiotics. There are some great natural remedies that can support your immune system.
7. Exercise Regularly
It is well known that regular exercise is essential for heart health, weight loss, and weight maintenance. A lesser-known, but equally important, the fact is that regular exercise helps to improve the health of your gut. Working out increases the diversity of microorganism species in your gut.
To keep your gut healthy in 2020, perform at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise and two days of resistance exercises each week. If you don’t have 2.5 per week to commit to cardio, you can perform a vigorous-intensity exercise for half that time each week.
8. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Research has shown that vegetarians are healthier than people who eat meat. But there isn’t inherently bad with a diet high in meat, healthy cholesterol, and healthy fats. As a whole, vegetarians are healthier than meat-eaters because their gut microbiomes are more diverse.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, vegetarians are more likely to eat foods that are high in prebiotic fiber, like bananas, asparagus, and artichoke. Second, they tend to eat a more diverse diet, incorporating Eastern grains and wheat into their weekly meal plans. You don’t have to give up meat to keep your gut health in 2020. Simply, try a new Eastern recipe twice a month until you find one you love and can incorporate into your weekly rotation.
Get Help Protecting Your Health in 2020
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you want 2020 to be the best year of your life so far? If so, contact the dedicated health and wellness experts at Thin MD Med Spa in Jacksonville, FL, and Jacksonville Beach, FL today, to schedule your initial consultation. You can schedule an appointment by calling (904) 694-0992, or you can book your appointment online.