Gut Flora and How to Improve your Gut Health
Trillions of bacteria live inside your gut! There is actually so much bacteria living in there that we are more bacteria than human, as the number of bacteria exceeds the number of cells in the rest of your body by a factor of 10. With more and more research coming out regarding the benefits of a healthy gut flora, it is time to treat these friendly bacteria like the kings and queens they are! But before we dive into the how, let’s touch base on the why.
In the large intestine, where our friendly bacteria reside, they begin fermenting aka eating carbohydrates the human body is otherwise unable to process. In other words they help transform our food into vital substances needed for our bodies. And in doing so, they reduce gut inflammation, stimulate and improve metabolic function and produce essential nutrients such as vitamin K.
Our gut induces the production of several neurotransmitters, including serotonin - 95% of serotonin is actually produced in our gut! Serotonin impacts every part of your body and is considered a natural mood stabilizer regulating anxiety, happiness and mood. So, is the secret to happiness a healthy gut?
About 70% of our immune system is located in the gut and thanks to our beneficial flora our immune system is able to differentiate between friend and foe and rebalance the immune system when it gets off-kilter.
Here are three ways to improve your gut health:
1. Proper Digestion
The key to proper digestion is making sure we absorb all our food. There’s a new saying out there that goes: “You are, not what you eat, but what you absorb.” This is so true! But how can we optimize our absorption? Start by turning off the T.V, putting aside your work and sitting down at the table. We want all our energy and focus to be on eating and digestion not distracted and worried about sustaining your on-the-go lifestyle. Food is meant to be enjoyed, so chew and taste it!
2. Reestablish Gut Bacteria
Probiotics and fermented food, such as: sauerkraut, kimchi and miso are the key to reestablishing the good bacteria in your gut. Also, eating plenty of whole plant foods, packed with fibre, is another critical part of nourishing a healthy microbiota. Warning! Gluten free foods and even a lot of salads can actually be low in fibre. To support the growth of probiotics aim to consume certain prebiotics, such as: almonds, bananas, garlic and onion, which will help to feed those friendly bacteria in your gut.
3. Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Gut inflammation is the result of undigested food, so besides taking the time to chew and enjoy your food, following an anti-inflammatory diet can also play a role in having a healthy gut. In general aim for fresh food or one-ingredient foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meat or dairy and minimize processed foods (anything between the aisles of a grocery store). Omega 3’s are also an anti-inflammatory nutrient, so try incorporating salmon, walnuts, chia seeds or flax seeds into your diet. Another amazing anti-inflammatory food is turmeric, so try adding this fabulous spice to soups, stews or stir fries.
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Article written for Gluten Free Canada