Improve Gut Health for a Healthy and Holistic Living

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor
May 30, 2024

Our gut goes far beyond just breaking down food for energy. This intricate system, often referred to as our "second brain," houses trillions of bacteria that influence everything from digestion and immunity to mood and sleep. A delicate balance exists between the good and bad bacteria in our gut, and maintaining this balance is crucial for optimal health.

When this harmony is disrupted (a condition called dysbiosis), chronic inflammation can arise, potentially leading to a cascade of issues like diabetes, depression, and heart disease. So, how to improve gut health? Let’s take a look at some ways you can take control of your gut health

How to Improve Gut Health for Good?

Remove inflammation-causing foods

Start by limiting or eliminating inflammatory foods. This includes dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, and processed sugars. Sugary treats can trigger inflammation and promote yeast overgrowth, disrupting the gut's bacterial balance. Reducing these might lead to temporary withdrawal symptoms, but they will subside as your body adapts. To aid detoxification during this transition, make sure you're well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 

Whole grains are champions for gut health

They are packed with fiber and unique carbohydrates like beta-glucan that resist digestion in the small intestine. Once these reach the colon, they become a feast for beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, and Bacteroidetes. This fuels a healthy microbiome, the community of microbes in your gut.

Whole grains also add bulk to your diet, promoting smooth digestion and reducing constipation. They can even help you feel fuller for longer, potentially reducing inflammation and lowering risk factors for heart disease. Stock your pantry with these gut-friendly options: barley, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, buckwheat, and millet.

Incorporate fermented foods rich in live microbes

Yogurt is a great example, boasting several bacterial strains like Streptococcus thermophilus the probiotic Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus that contribute to a balanced gut microbiome. Studies suggest higher yogurt intake may improve insulin and blood sugar levels, potentially lowering diabetes risk.

Other fermented superstars include cheeses made with raw milk (unpasteurized), sauerkraut, and soy products like tempeh and miso. Kefir, a tangy fermented milk drink, packs a punch with five times the microbial content of yogurt, making it a gut health powerhouse.

Leafy green vegetables are powerhouses for gut health

Recent research has identified a sugar molecule in these greens called sulfoquinovose, which acts as a prebiotic—food for the good bacteria in your gut. This nourishment helps beneficial bacteria thrive and crowd out harmful ones. Beyond this gut-boosting benefit, leafy greens like spinach and kale are loaded with fiber, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K. While we can't digest all the fiber in vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus, our gut bacteria love it!

This translates to a lower abundance of bad bacteria in the gut for those who consume more vegetables. Studies even suggest daily leafy greens might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14%.

Chronic stress can disrupt the delicate balance in your gut

This could be among the most important factors when it comes down to “ How to improve gut health ?” When we are stressed, our bodies release more cortisol, a hormone that can initially help manage inflammation. However, long-term exposure to high cortisol levels can lead to increased inflammation throughout the body.

Stress can also suppress the immune system by reducing white blood cell count, making us more susceptible to infections. To promote gut health, consider stress-management techniques like taking long walks, meditation, spending time with loved ones, or activities that make you laugh.

Over-the-counter medications and antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome

While convenient, frequent use of pain relievers like paracetamol and antacids may harm gut bacteria. Antibiotics, though essential for fighting infections, wipe out both beneficial and harmful bacteria. This disruption can take time to heal, potentially several weeks. Studies suggest that up to 30% of antibiotic prescriptions in the United States might be unnecessary, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Consider alternative pain management strategies and always follow the doctor's instructions regarding antibiotic use. When it comes to medical treatments that secure holistic wellness, functional medicine plays a key role in understanding how to improve gut health.

Functional medicine goes beyond treating gut symptoms. It delves deeper to uncover the root cause of your digestive issues. This personalized approach considers you as a whole and may involve tests, dietary modifications, and lifestyle adjustments. Functional medicine practitioners aim to create a plan to restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, promoting overall well-being.

This approach considers the whole person and may involve tests, dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, and targeted supplements or medications. Functional medicine practitioners create individualized treatment plans to restore a healthy balance of microbes in your gut microbiome, promoting overall well-being.

How to Improve Gut Health with Functional Medicine?

Are you fed up with constant tiredness? Been to countless doctors with no lasting solutions? Nina Ross Functional Medicine can help.

We take a different approach to health, focusing on uncovering the root cause of your gut issues and other health problems. Dr. Nina Ross has just the right approach to treating chronic health issues that appear to you as untreatable illnesses.

Nina Ross
Certified Naturopathic Doctor

What can Nina Ross Functional Medicine do for you?

Nina Ross Functional Medicine is here to give you holistic solutions that will lead to a new healthy you!

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