The gut is a surprisingly important component of both mental and physical health. Believe it or not, the gut influences your general wellbeing immensely. Studies have long unveiled the benefits you reap when you improve gut health, affecting your immune system, mental health, and cognition.
When someone mentions the gut, most of us immediately think of the stomach, but the gut comprises much more than just the stomach. The gut, short for gastrointestinal or digestive tract, is a procession of hollow organs connected through a long tunnel from your mouth to your rectum. The six organs that make up your digestive tract are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus.
As part of the digestive system, the gut was once considered as part of the “simpler” body systems. The past two decades have sought to overturn this perception with growing research that explores the intricacies surrounding your gut and the necessities for gut health and your gut health’s possible connections to many of your body’s functions such as the nervous system.
“Gut health” covers not only the overall state of your gastrointestinal tract but the condition and balance of the microorganisms (also known as the “gut microbiota”, “gut flora”, or “gut microbiome”) found in your digestive tract as well. Inside are millions of gut microbiota, or nearly 2,000 species of bacteria, that can be harmful and beneficial to your body. The species your gut depends on several factors, such as where you live, your health condition, and the medication you may be taking if any.
Whilst understanding how this body system functions in its entirety can be overwhelming, there are some basics to know when it comes to improving gut health. These key points are discussed below.
Now that you understand that basics of the importance of gut health for our wellbeing, let’s look at some of the ways to improve it below:
Getting your 8 hours is often touted as a necessity for mental clarity and longevity but did you know it could also help to improve your gut naturally? Lack of sleep can actually lead to a host of problems for your gut health and getting into a healthy sleep routine will improve gut health and assist you in avoiding issues such as poor dietary choices due to lack of sleep or increased stress due to lack of sleep.
Everyone knows how important it is to stay hydrated, but an estimated 50% of people need to drink more water daily. Hydration and gut health are directly related for a host of reasons. Drinking enough water can help regulate your bowel movements, prevent constipation, and even help to break down food.
This one is obvious. Drink less alcohol, and you’ll be healthier. Not just gut health but overall health too. Heavy drinking can damage the lining of the stomach and gut and result in bacterial degradation of the gut.
Can exercise improve your gut health? Exercise improves blood flow and therefore, sends more blood to the gut which can help improve the cells that line the gut wall and lead to microbial changes. Exercise is also known to reduce stress, which is a threat to a healthy gut.
Supplements can give your gut a helping hand in reaching efficiency and there are a range of supplements that have can help support overall digestive health, including:
These are ingredients from carbs, such as fibre, consumed by the healthy bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are live bacteria with health benefits that can be found in some foods and supplements.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that maintain and support general health and wellbeing, relieve bowel discomfort and help relieve symptoms of travellers' diarrhoea.
Curcumin is derived from turmeric. Curcumin is known to reduce free radicals formed in the body and maintain/support healthy digestive system function.
This micronutrient maintains/supports the immune system to fight off illness. Zinc is also known to assist in the prevention of dietary deficiency.
Find out more about other supplements that can support digestion: