Your gut doesn’t just affect how well you digest food and stay regular. It also affects your overall health and wellbeing, and that’s why it’s important to make sure you’re eating more gut-friendly foods containing gut-friendly bacteria (probiotics and prebiotics) and maintaining a gut-friendly lifestyle.
When your gut is happy, you’re happy—it’s that simple. However, it’s also easy to negatively impact your gut health without actually realizing that what you eat and which daily habits are putting your gut health at a disadvantage.
The good news is you can adjust your routine to better accommodate your gut and to improve your health and wellbeing both short- and long-term. Here’s how your gut can affect your whole body, as well as some tips for keeping your body happy, healthy and balanced.
It Can Either Boost or Hinder Your Immune System
If you tend to get sick often, your gut health might be suffering, since the majority of our immune system resides in the gut. So, if you have poor gut health and more bad bacteria then good bacteria in your body, you’ll be weaker and less able to fight off the common cold as well as other kinds of infections and illnesses.
The best way to keep your body strong and well is by taking a probiotic each day to balance gut flora and give your immune system a boost in gut-friendly bacteria strains. Culturelle or align are two options I like in particular, and in addition to supplements, eating more probiotic and prebiotic dense foods will help too. Think: Greek yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough, bananas and artichokes, for example.
It Keeps Your Regular or Can Make You Constipated
Having a regular intake of gut healthy probiotics and prebiotics as well as high-fiber foods can also keep you regular, where you have smooth, easy and consistent bowel movements and digestion after eating a meal.
If your diet lacks these kinds of food sources, you may become constipated and experience more abdominal bloating and retention. Likewise, if you eat too much fiber at once you could have too loose of stools and diarrhea—so it’s all about finding that happy medium and ideal balance.
It Can Make You Happier or Moodier
When your gut is happy, your wellbeing and quality of life increases too. Your brain releases the “happy hormone” serotonin when there’s higher presence of gut friendly bacteria in the body, where you’ll experience an elevated mood and greater wellbeing.
And when there’s fewer strains of gut healthy, “good” bacteria and more “bad” bacteria in the gut (which comes especially from a high-sugar and refined carbohydrate diet, for example), you’ll likely feel moodier and less content in general. Having more regular intake of probiotics, fiber and prebiotics will boost both good gut bacteria levels and happiness.
It Can Boost Longevity or Make You Less Healthy
In addition to impacting your happiness and quality of life, gut health also affects your overall health and longevity, as it relates to risk of disease and illness with age. When you have better gut health, you lower the risk of various diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol or stroke.
To protect your ticker and to slow down the effects the aging, like the body’s fragility and risk of disease, as well as appearance of aging (skin health and muscular strength included), make sure to eat a clean diet that’s packed with nutrition, to keep sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat in moderation, and to get enough exercise and sleep in the week. Aim for both cardio and strength training to improve strength, lower risk of low bone density and better manage weight as you age.
It Helps You Snooze or Keeps You Awake
You need those zzz’s to make sure your body is well and your mind is sharp; however, when you have poor gut health you may find it challenging to snooze. Excess food or eating too late at night might delay getting ready for bed and might keep you awake, plus it can make your stomach uncomfortable.
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night is helpful in preventing sickness and weakness, plus it lowers risk of disease too. And it’ll help keep your skin taut and more youthful as you get older, as well as your muscles stronger and fully recovered post-workout.
Plus, if you don’t eat enough healthy, gut-friendly foods, and if you eat sugary or greasy foods that are high in saturated fat and are super dense (especially if late at night) you’ll likely hinder drowsiness and a comfortable slumber due to excess stimulation from the sugar or digestive discomfort.