Did you know that 70% of your immune system is located in the gut?
The majority of diseases begin in the gut, where the good bacteria work to improve health while the bad ones coordinate to bring about disease.
Whether the good or bad bacteria thrive is entirely dependent on your diet and lifestyle. See also, 8 Natural Probiotics For Vegans
Fortunately, you have the right to decide what goes into your body and what should not because anything you eat can either bring health or disease.
Research shows that if you take care of your gut, you can eliminate up to 90% of the chances of developing diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart-related conditions, cancers, and other related gut issues.
So what can you do to ensure your gut is at the peak of its function? Here is how you can improve gut health naturally.
1. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, Kimchi, yogurt, tempeh, kombucha, and other fermented vegetables contain probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut (gut microbiome).
By consuming them, you are adding to your beneficial bacteria, which increases the health of your gut flora, thus enhancing your immune system.
2. Avoid sugar and processed foods
A diet that is high in sugar and processed foods will disrupt your gut flora by causing inflammation and decreasing the number of good bacteria. This will cause the harmful bacteria to thrive, making you susceptible to various diseases.
In addition, sugar and other processed foods like white flour can spike your blood glucose levels, which over time can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other heart-related conditions.
3. Drink water first thing in the morning
At rest, your pyloric sphincter (a smooth visceral muscle-like valve between your stomach and duodenum) remains partially open but immediately closes in the presence of food to allow digestion to take place.
If you drink water 1st thing in the morning, it will go through your stomach into the duodenum, wiping off any residual toxins in your entire gut. This will help purify your colon and clean your stomach, increasing the surface area for the absorption of nutrients. It also increases circulation to your gut, improves your skin, and can help with weight loss.
4. Chew your food well
This is such a simple and obvious act that goes almost unnoticed.
Most people don’t take time to chew their food well, and I’m sure you’ve been a victim at some point.
What people do is break the food into pieces they can manage to swallow. But trust me, those teeth and saliva couldn’t have been a mistake.
Did you know your digestion, especially of starch, begins in the mouth? By chewing your food well, you’re increasing the surface area for the digestive enzyme in the saliva to act.
After swallowing, digestion of starch in the stomach slows down since the enzyme involved can only act in an alkaline environment, and the stomach is acidic. It later continues in the duodenum, but without initial proper chewing, there will be poor digestion with minimal absorption of nutrients taking place.
5. Drink water between meals and not with meals
Digestion of protein takes place in the stomach, but there must be an acidic environment for that to happen. The stomach is always acidic with a PH of 2.5, but when you drink with meals, this environment changes, and the acid is neutralized to a PH of about 3.5-4. Since the digestive enzyme in the stomach cannot break down proteins in such an environment, the stomach has to stop digesting and try to get rid of the water and bring the PH back to normal. This delays digestion and fermentation may set in, leading to the growth of bacteria.
6. Avoid snacking between meals
It takes approximately 2-4 hours for the stomach to empty its content, depending on the type of food you’ve eaten. The stomach then needs about an hour of rest, meaning you should have a pause of about 5-6 hours between meals.
You can only achieve this if:
- You are eating food high in fiber. Fiber binds up glucose and slowly releases it, thus maintaining your energy for long.
- You are eating food generous in proteins, with the best examples being legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- If you’re eating healthy fats like coconut and olive oil. Fats help keep food longer in the stomach by coating it. That way, it takes a bit longer for digestion to get to the food, which is good news.
7. Never go to bed on a full stomach
Your organs love to rest as much as they love to serve you. Avoid eating your main meal at night and eat something light instead.
When you sleep on a full stomach, the food pushes on the cardiac sphincter (a muscle-like valve that opens to allow food into the stomach from the esophagus and closes to avoid reflux).
Over time, this muscle weakens and cannot relax properly, leading to acid reflux.
A very light meal at night can also help maintain your weight as there is no extra glucose being stored as fat.
8. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
Unless you really need antibiotics, please don’t take them.
Not only do antibiotics kill disease-causing pathogens, but they also wipe off your good bacteria, causing an imbalance in your gut microbiome and its function.
This can reduce species diversity, increase antibiotic-resistance genes, disrupt bacterial signaling, and lower immunity.
9. Exercise regularly
Poor digestion has been linked to a disruption in gut movements, low energy levels, bloating, heartburn, feeling heavy, reduced ability to work and concentrate, stress, and even weight gain.
Regular exercise, on the other hand, can aid digestion and improve gut health.
Some of the best exercises to enhance digestion include brisk walking, cycling, crunches, and breathing exercises. see Also 8 Life-Changing Benefits of Exercise
10. Reduce stress
The brain and the gut are closely connected, and anything affecting your mind will definitely affect your gut.
Stress activates your flight-or-fight response, which increases acid production in your stomach, leading to indigestion.
In the worst cases, stress may reduce blood flow and oxygen supply to the stomach leading to inflammation, cramps, and an imbalance in gut flora.
Short-term stress can lead to a loss of appetite, while long-term stress can cause gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, and indigestion.
Over time, this may lead to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and other gut-related disorders.
11. Eat food rich in fiber
Dietary fiber acts as a prebiotic to feed your good gut bacteria, which helps increase their population and diversity.
Fiber is also essential for regular bowel movements, reducing cholesterol, controlling blood sugar levels, preventing constipation, and resolving diarrhea.
Other Related Articles
- 8 Life-Changing Benefits of Exercise
- 11 Sneaky Ingredients That Are Not Vegan
- What Is The Best Vegan Milk?
- 10 Foods That Boost The Immune System
- 8 Natural Probiotics For Vegans
- Should Vegans Take Supplements
- 6 Benefits Of A Plant-Based Diet
- 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources
- 11 Proven Benefits Of Coconut Oil
A healthy gut is essential for a healthy body and a strong immune system. Avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics, controlling your stress levels, exercising, and minding what you eat, how you eat, and when you eat are some of the key factors to help you improve your gut health naturally.
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