Trust Your Gut! And keep it healthy!
Have you ever had to give a presentation and felt that nervousness in your belly??
Or, ever gotten butterflies in your stomach?
Or, had to go to the bathroom more frequently leading up to an important athletic event??
Or, gotten a feeling deep in your gut, like it was warning you that something bad was going to happen?!
It’s times like these that the gut-brain connection becomes apparent and obvious to us, but that connection is always there! And that’s just one reason why our gut health matters!
What contributes to our gut health, you ask?? Great question.
Things that contribute to your gut health:
Diet quality and variety
Exercise and daily life/movements
Body composition and metabolic health
Alcohol and tobacco use
How you were born (C-Section, natural) + if breastfed
Exposure to infection, fungus, bacteria, etc
That is a long list!
And here’s one crazy (and also kind of gross!) fact about your gut: If you stretched out the gastrointestinal system in its entirety, it would have the surface area of a regulation sized singles tennis court.
That’s right, we carry around at least as many bacterial cells as body cells! We’re talking trillions here!
And we need them!
And our gut health is dependent on them!
These good bacteria in our gut (collectively known as our gut microbiome) help us digest food, produce vitamins we need, and help protect us from infections. A healthy gut can also help support weight loss and regularity, improve skin health, and enhance immunity!
Good stuff, right?!
Yes! And the good news is that we can enhance our gut health mainly by eating high quality foods and moving regularly.
So, let’s talk foods that support gut health.
PROBIOTICS and PREBIOTICS
Probiotics are living microorganisms that support our gut when eaten, like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kombucha, and pickles.
Prebiotics are carbs and dietary fibers that help feed these bacteria, like fruits and veggies.
You can think about it this way... probiotics add more healthy bacteria to your gut, and prebiotics help to nourish and feed the bacteria!
This is why I recommend eating 3-5 servings of fruits, vegges, and other fiber-rich foods per day, to ensure that we're appropriately feeding those bacterias and keeping our gut healthy!
But, how much fiber is that actually??
Another good question.
Ideally, women should aim for at least 25g Fiber per day, while men should aim for 35g (depending on size!). (I imagine this is also an appropriate time to mention the other benefits of fiber, outside of feeding the gut bacteria, specifically. Those benefits include: keeping us fuller longer, lowering blood lipids and cholesterol, lower risk of colon cancer, and bathroom regularity.)
For me, those 25 grams translated into actual foods might look like this:
1 cup Raspberries (8 grams)
5 oz Steamed Broccoli (5 grams)
1 oz Almonds (3 grams)
1 tsp Chia Seeds (2 grams)
¼ cup Steel Cut Oats (3 grams)
1 Apple (4.5 grams)
That would be spread out throughout the day, not in one sitting!
You might be thinking, cool, Sara… that looks nice for you, but what if that’s too much for me to dive into eating right away? Can I supplement??
Another good question, Dear Reader. ; )
First of all, getting more fiber than you’re currently getting is beneficial, even if it’s not quite at that 25/35 number. Also, if you are already including enough pre- and probiotic foods in your routine, you may not need to include an additional probiotic supplement. However, since these bacteria are naturally occurring in our bodies, it is typically not a negative to supplement with more (but only to a point… we don’t want you to be spending all day in the bathroom, if you know what I mean!).
If you are looking to supplement, look for a brand that includes between 1-10 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs). (Per usual, a reminder that I am not a doctor, this is for information purposes only, and please check with your doctor about your personal supplement needs!)
Here are a few brands I like:
Whole Foods Brand Blue Raspberry Probiotic Plus Fiber Gummies, 3g fiber + 2 billion CFU (These are actually delicious!)
Okay, ready for the last question??
What if you’re not ready to change anything about what you’re eating or supplementing or exercising?
Fine… but there’s still a way you can support your gut health, and that is EATING SLOWLY. Not only does chewing more and eating slowly help break down food for your gut, but it also helps us eat more appropriate amounts for our hunger levels.
And if you need some inspiration to make any of these adjustments, know this:
Changes in gut microbiome can happen as quickly as 24 hours due to the reproductive nature of bacteria! You can see results with this QUICKLY and it’s WORTH IT!
That’s all I’ve got for today about your guts, their importance, and what you can do to support your microbiome and overall health!
What did you think of this post?! Want more posts like this about other topics? Let me know in the comments or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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And, as always, thanks for reading!