How many times have you been told to “listen to your gut,” that feeling inside that helps guide your decisions? While that sixth sense guidance can be helpful, listening to your actual gut could be one of the best health decisions you make. The gut microbiome, made up of the microorganisms that live in our intestinal tract, and gut health have gained attention in the medical community for their links to whole body health and wellness. Research supports us supporting our guts.
How to improve your gut health:
1. Getting plenty of fluids is critical for gut health. “Fluids keep the digestion track moving. One way to know if your body is getting enough fluid is to look at the color of your urine. If the color is close to the color of water (colorless) or lemonade (light yellow) you are likely hydrated. If the color of urine is closer to dark yellow/orange, it’s time to have another glass of water,” says Jenny Nixon, MBA, RDN, LDN, of NexJen Consulting, LLC.
2. Critically important to gut health are the foods you eat. Food can either feed your gut and help the good bacteria flourish, or it can fuel the growth of bad bacteria. “Large influxes of fat and/or sugar tend to disrupt gut health and upset the gut microbiota, simple sugar especially,” says Angie Endler, nutrition programs coordinator at Dare to Care Food Bank.
3. A diet high in fiber is needed to keep your gut healthy. “Fiber is the element that helps move food through our digestive tract, leading us to healthy colons. The majority of Americans do not consume enough fiber in their diet, only 10 grams a day,” says Angie. The recommended amount of fiber a day for women over 50 is 21 grams and 30 grams for men over 50.
4. Consume a diet that includes plenty of variety. “The diversity of plant fibers is what matters. We want a diverse microbiome, and a diversity of plants is required for that,” says Dr. Sunana Sohi, gastroenterologist at Gastroenterology Health Partners. Eating the same fruits or veggies over and over will not be as beneficial as consuming a wide array of plant-based options. As a goal, Dr. Sohi suggests trying to consume 30 different plant-based items each week. This total includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also herbs, spices, legumes, and grains.
By Tami Pyles