Your gut plays an incredible role in both physical and mental wellbeing, influencing mood, digestion and more through its trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses that reside there.
Maintaining a balanced microbiome is vital to overall wellness. A diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables as well as fermented foods (kefir or sauerkraut) can support a thriving microbiome.
Stress is a normal part of life, but unchecked it can pose serious health risks. Your body responds to stressful situations by producing certain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters released by your brain can trigger your heart rate and blood pressure to rise; this response is also known as the “fight or flight” response.
Chronic stress increases your risk of high blood pressure, which has been linked to heart disease and stroke. Learning to effectively manage stress before it becomes chronic can decrease these risks significantly.
Weight loss can help enhance your overall wellness, as it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes while relieving symptoms associated with digestive (GI) issues like bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts can play an essential role in supporting gut health. A diet filled with these foods will help ensure a proper balance of bacteria in your gut and increase its health benefits.
Diets high in fiber can also help promote the growth and diversity of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract, with fruits, cruciferous veggies, legumes being among the finest natural sources for gut-nourishing fiber.
Exercise regularly can also benefit your gut health. A recent study demonstrated how physical activity alters both composition and function of gut bacteria independent from diet.
Better sleep can make you feel more energized, focused and less likely to experience mood swings. Additionally, it helps manage weight and maintain a healthier body composition, all great ways to enhance overall wellness.
A healthy microbiome produces sleep-inducing hormones like dopamine, serotonin, GABA and melatonin to promote restful nights of restful slumber. A compromised gut can result in low levels of these important sleep aids resulting in insomnia or other health problems that interfere with restful sleeping patterns.
Your digestive bacteria follow circadian rhythms, which dictate when and how they process nutrients you consume. Any change to your daily schedule could disturb these microbial cycles and disrupt sleep quality.
Studies published in 2022 demonstrated the relationship between greater microbiome diversity and better sleep for children. More specifically, those with more Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides bacteria in their gut reported longer sleep duration periods than their counterparts with lesser amounts.
Gut Health and Overall Well-Being
No matter how nutritiously you eat, if your digestive system is malfunctioning improperly it won’t be able to absorb all the essential vitamins and minerals from food you ingest – leading to issues like bloating, constipation, diarrhea and weight gain.
An appropriate diet with lots of fiber, protein and vegetables can be essential in supporting optimal digestive health. Opt for whole grain options over refined ones when choosing grains; and include fresh produce as part of each meal.
Maintain a regular eating pattern will aid digestion. Be sure to have breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time each day.
Drinking plenty of water is also vital for digestive health. Aim to have one glass with each meal and increase fiber consumption to create soft yet bulkier stools that are easier to pass through the colon.