Most of the time, you eat without even thinking about it. After your plate is cleaned, your food doesn’t get a second thought. But for the body, food takes a lot more work and (metaphorical) thought. That’s where your gut comes in, and that’s why having a healthy and balanced gut matters.
Your gut is responsible for turning food into fuel to keep your organs working, help your body thrive, and keep you awake during that 9 AM meeting.
But what really is gut health? You can’t see your gut, and you can’t always feel it (unless there’s something wrong), so it can be challenging to tell if it’s working its best.
Gut health is the function and balance of bacteria throughout your gastrointestinal system. At a very basic level:
gut health = thriving and balanced bacteria
(Remember, bacteria can be good!)
Organs such as the oesophagus, stomach, and intestines all need to function properly to enable humans to eat and digest food without pain, and they can’t do that without good bacteria to help them out.
There’s a lot of science behind how to keep your gut healthy. But here, we’ll focus on why it’s so important to take care of your gut and keep it healthy. Here are three good reasons!
Your Gut Is Responsible for Critical Body Functions
Healthy stomach = excellent well-being.
More than 100 trillion bacteria live in your stomach, and these bacteria are essential to our metabolism healthy and overall well-being. They feed on dietary fiber from the foods we eat, and they perform several functions, such as producing Vitamins B and K and breaking down dietary fiber.
The breakdown of dietary fiber causes the release of healthy, anti-inflammatory fatty acids, which are essential energy sources for the body’s systems. Now, not all bacteria are beneficial. Some of the “bad” bacteria must be eliminated and replaced with good ones.
An imbalance of bacteria can have a negative impact on your health. Just like with everything in life, we need balance! Fortunately for all of us, balancing bacteria is something prebiotics can help with.
A Healthy Gut Improves Immune System Function
When your immune system is weak, it can usually be linked back to a weak gut. There are tons of reasons for this, some of which are swept into the “leaky gut” discussion that’s become trendy lately.
The good news? Simply understanding this connection of gut and immunity empowers you to be mindful of what you put in your body so you can improve immunological health.
A Healthy Gut Enhances Your Mood
Your stomach is the often called the second brain (creepy, I know). A network of neurons, neurotransmitters, and hormones connects the brain and stomach. That’s how you know when you’re hungry—your gut delivers that message to your brain.
Because of this gut-brain link, poor digestive health may even contribute to mood problems.
You can also see this when you’re really nervous or afraid: Do you get an upset stomach, or lose your appetite? Us too! It’s part of the linked, innate fight or flight response to stressors in our environment.
3 Key Ways to Keep Your Gut Healthy
Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Be mindful of how many fruits and vegetables you’re eating. Every meal doesn’t need to be perfect, but making sure you’re aiming for balance is important. Fruits and veggies contain a lot of fiber, and that fiber feeds the good bacteria in your stomach.
Increasing your intake of fermented foods (like kimchi!) is another delicious way to enhance your gut health. Fermentation is often accomplished by a present bacteria or yeast turning carbohydrates in food into organic acids or alcohol. Pretty cool, right?
Try a Probiotic
Another tool that can help keep your gut healthy is a probiotic. Probiotics are living bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to your health, particularly the digestive system. A probiotic will introduce new good bacteria to your gut.
But what about prebiotics? To put it simply, prebiotics serve as food for probiotics. They’re a type of fiber, so you’re probably already consuming some prebiotic-rich foods without even realizing it. However, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough prebiotics to keep your probiotics well-fed. That’s the key to a healthy gut.
Consume Less Junk Food
This is one of the biggest recommendations out there, but it’s true! Consume highly processed foods in moderation. Highly processed foods are more difficult for your body to digest and process. They aren’t as “natural,” and sometimes your body has trouble knowing what to do with them.
Think about it this way: the human body has been dealing with potatoes for years, but potato chips are a curveball! The cellular structure is different and that makes digestion more challenging.
This doesn’t mean you can never have potato chips again. It just means you should try to balance potato chips with normal potatoes, as well as fruits and veggies you genuinely enjoy.
Much like the perfect chocolate chip cookie and what to get your partner for Valentine’s Day, the human gut is much more complicated than we ever thought it could be. It has a significant effect on overall health: it contributes to a robust immune system, cardiovascular health, mental focus, better mood, good sleep, and efficient digestion. Positive gut health may help avoid certain cancers and autoimmune disorders, too.
There are lots of little things you can do to help keep your gut health. One easy and delicious way is to try one of our healthy prebiotic sodas that comes in 4 bursting flavors! They’re good for your gut and better for your taste buds—we promise.