Is your ‘gut feeling’ good? If not, then you should probably pay attention to it. Our gut is what sets our body into motion. It is also called the second brain. Studies show that 60% of our immune system lies in the gut. Our gut health has A LOT to do with the majority of health problems. Let’s take a deeper look at what the gut really is and how it affects us.
The main function of the gut is to absorb all the nutrients required by our body to function and to eliminate the waste substances like toxins, and harmful chemicals. Interference with the absorption process can lead to the inadequacy of nutrients in the body. Many people suffer from intestinal permeability or what we call the ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. In this condition, the gaps in your intestinal wall start to loosen allowing toxic substances to pass through and enter your bloodstream.
There are various factors that can alter the good and bad bacteria in our gut like a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices. It is also sometimes seen in people who suffer from chronic or autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. If the gut is not getting the required amount of nutrients due to these factors, it focuses on directing the nutrients to the essential organs like the heart and liver. This is why when we lack optimal nutrition, the changes can usually be seen on our hair, skin, and nails first.
Hence, the first step to achieving healthy functioning of the body is to promote a healthy gut. For the people who have an unhealthy gut, the good news is that it can be repaired by making certain changes to our daily lifestyle. Research actually shows that even a lifetime of poor dietary choices can be reversed.
- Chew your food
A really simple yet crucial step is to chew your food. The purpose of this process is to break down the food we eat so that it is easier to digest once swallowed.
- Consume nutrient-rich food
Foods like fruits and vegetables are packed with plenty of nutrients which are essential for a healthy gut. Other great foods you should include in your diet are nuts, seeds, grains, lentils, lean meat, healthy fats and fish which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
- Prebiotics & Probiotics
It is extremely important to incorporate foods that are rich in fiber - also called prebiotics in our diet, since they help in the waste elimination process. There are 2 types of fibers- soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers can be found in oats, flax seeds, chia seeds, rye, barley and some fruits and vegetables like apples, strawberries, and potatoes. These foods keep us full for longer by regulating our blood sugar levels and have the ability to bind to substances. Insoluble fibers act as a cleansing agent for our digestive system. These can be found in foods like beans, leafy green vegetables like broccoli and fruits like avocados and raspberries.
Along with prebiotics, your body also needs probiotics to break down insoluble fibers. In order to maintain good bacteria in our body, we should consume fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, miso, kimchi, and kombucha which are great sources of probiotics.
Fluids are another key element in the waste elimination process. In order to ease out the elimination of waste in our body, we must drink a ton of fluids, the best being water. Water detoxes your body by eliminating waste. Women should drink at least 2.2 litres of water per day while men should drink at least 3 litres per day. Additionally, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, tomatoes, and pineapples can also be consumed as they have high water content
We have spoken about what promotes a healthy gut, but we need to also be aware of the foods that can damage it. Here are a few things to keep in mind-
- Avoid food allergy triggers. Gluten and dairy are two of the most common allergies related to gut health.
- Alcohol, sugar, pesticides and highly processed food also weaken the gut lining, so try to reduce or limit consumption of these.
- Eat smaller meals to avoid bloating.
- If you suffer from acidity, drink a little bit of warm lemon water before every meal.