Focusing On Your Gut Health
The most common question floating these days is - what is gut health and how to improve gut health? Well, it is interesting to know that gut health has implications beyond simply digestion. The state of your gut health may regulate your mood through serotonin production, since 90% of this feel-good hormone that affects mood and behaviour is made in the gut, 70-80% of the immune system lies in the gut, and most importantly, our gut health is directly linked with our predisposition to weight gain!
The total surface area of the gut is approximately the size of a half a badminton court or a studio apartment! This is why the foods that we eat have such a great impact on health. The integrity of the gut lining can get compromised if it is constantly being exposed to irritants through diet or environment. This, in turn, can cause low- level inflammation and can lead to a variety of disorders.
Keeping in mind the importance of gut health, it is worth mentioning that the bacteria present in the gut, actually helps on how to improve gut health. These bacteria refer to the billions of live bacteria that are present in the gut which include fungi, parasites and viruses. It is estimated that the gut contains approximately 35,000 different strains of bacteria. The majority are found in the large intestine. The bacteria have number of functions like synthesising Vitamin K from the foods consumed, altering the gut environment so that it is less likely that you get any infections, detoxifying toxins, helping manage blood sugar levels, affecting brain health and so on. They are, in fact, popularly known as an organ by itself due to the key roles in promoting the day-to-day operations of the human body.
Every person has a unique set of bacteria that is determined by one’s DNA. The first exposure to these bacteria is as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through breast milk. As you grow, these begin to grow and populate with environmental exposures and diet changes that can be beneficial to your health or place you at greater risk for disease. The key to understanding how to improve gut health is keeping the environment healthy for the right bacteria to grow and feed the bacteria with the right foods.
• Remove or limit the gut irritants like sugar and processed foods.
• Reduce the use of excessive antibiotics (take them when necessary under a doctor’s supervision), they can negatively impact the gut bacteria by also killing the good bacteria along with the bad ones. Hence, it can be beneficial to add probiotics (good bacteria) in the form of supplements or fermented veggies at this time. It takes almost a month to restore the good bacteria back in the gut after an antibiotic course.
• Limit the dose of anti- inflammatory drugs, they can directly affect the gut lining and can increase the risk of gut health issues.
• Avoid heavy meat diets as they can increase inflammation in the gut.
• Avoid artificial sweeteners, although they add sweetness to your lives without much calories, they can have a negative impact on the gut bacteria causing an imbalance.
Incorporate foods that are good for your gut health such as –
1. Fermented veggies like cabbage, cauliflower, raddish, carrot and cucumber. These are the popular Indian achars (pickles) made by our grandmothers! These are loaded with beneficial bacteria.
2. Foods rich in soluble fibre in the form whole grains like rajgira, bajra, beans, fruits and veggies specifically foods like onion and garlic. The fibre that is not digested by us is actually used by these bacteria to produce substances that lower inflammation in the gut and make immune-regulating compounds.
3. Bone broth, is an infusion made with the bones of healthy animals with herbs, spices and water. This can be added in soups or consumed by itself. This helps in aiding digestion and understanding how to improve gut health.
4. Coconut oil helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria and reduce inflammation. It can be added in vegetable juices, consumed in lukewarm water or a made as a paste with turmeric powder and black pepper.
5. Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent and helps to break down the nutrients from the foods and helps with digestion. Try Tata Sampann Turmeric Powder that is sourced from the fields of Salem, Tamil Nadu. It has 3% guarantee of curcumin, which is responsible for the health benefits of this spice.
Understanding the importance gut health, it would make sense to give it a little more love and care with the right kind of foods for these beautiful organisms that live within us to thrive.
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