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How to Boost Your Gut Heath

illustration of intestines on a persons stomachYour gut isn’t as simple as you may think. It doesn’t just digest food and absorb nutrients. The gut has intimate communication with the brain, constantly influencing several factors. These include immune activity, GI muscle contractions, and fluid secretion. It’s essential to note that over 70% of your immune cells reside in the gut. Ensuring that you have a healthy gut not only means that you’re supporting a healthy immune system but everything that functions because of that. Gut health can influence autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer. So, keep reading to learn how you can boost your gut health.

What Is a Gut Microbiome?

Your gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines. A person can have about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria living in their digestive tract at one time. While some microorganisms can be harmful to your health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary for your body to function properly. By having a wide variety of good bacteria in your gut, you can enhance your immune system function, improve depression symptoms, combat obesity, and much more.

Eat A Diverse Diet

To achieve a diverse microbiome, you need to consume a diverse diet. Unfortunately, the traditional western diet lacks many different foods and is high in fat and sugar. It’s estimated that 75% of the world’s food comes from 12 plant species and five animal species. However, it has been recorded that the microbiomes of individuals living in rural areas, like rural Africa and South America, are more diverse.

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiome. They’re high in fiber, which certain bacteria in your gut feed on and grow. One study found that following a diet rich in fruits and vegetables prevented the growth of some disease-causing bacteria. Apples, blueberries, and artichokes have all been shown to increase Bifidobacteria, a bacteria that can help prevent intestinal inflammation and promote gut health.

Feast on Fermented Foods

Fermentation is when yeast or bacteria break down the sugars in foods. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh. Many of these fermented foods are rich in lactobacilli bacteria, benefiting gut health. Scientists have discovered that those who eat a lot of yogurt tend to have more lactobacilli and less Enterobacteriaceae, a type of bacteria associated with inflammation and other chronic conditions. Other studies show that eating yogurt can improve intestinal bacteria and decrease symptoms of lactose intolerance. When you eat yogurt, make sure you consume plain, unsweetened yogurt or flavored yogurt with minimal added sugars. The label should also read “contains live active cultures.”

Take Prebiotics

Prebiotics provide “food” to the bacteria in your gut. This promotes bacterial growth. You can get prebiotics naturally from fiber or complex carbohydrates, which are difficult for humans to digest. One example is resistant starch, which is not absorbed in the small intestine and passes into the large intestine, where the microbiota breaks it down. Specific prebiotics can reduce insulin, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in people with obesity, which could help prevent certain conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Take Probiotics

Unlike prebiotics, probiotics are actual, live bacteria that you consume. In most cases, probiotics are unable to colonize the intestines permanently. However, they can benefit your health by changing the overall composition of the microbiome and supporting your metabolism. A review of 63 studies explains this well. While it found little evidence that probiotics can permanently alter the microbiome, it notes that the probiotics’ most substantial effects restored the microbiome to a healthy state after being compromised. Keep in mind that probiotics aren’t for everyone. People with bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, should avoid them.

Eat Whole Grains

Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and nondigestible carbohydrates, like beta-glucan. These carbs promote the growth of Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and Bacteroidetes in the large intestine. These carbs can also increase the feeling of fullness and reduce inflammation and certain risk factors associated with heart disease. Keep in mind that eating whole grains, specifically those containing gluten, is not recommended for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Eating these grains may increase inflammation and intestinal permeability in these individuals.

Eat Polyphenols

Polyphenols are plant compounds that reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The gut does not absorb polyphenols efficiently, so most end up in the colon, where bacteria finally digest them. Good sources of these compounds are cocoa, red wine, grape skins, green tea, onion, broccoli, almonds, and blueberries.


Exercise is good for the health and wellness of all parts of your body, including your gut. A 2019 review reported that exercise could alter gut bacteria composition and functionality independently of diet. Overall, longer workouts and high-intensity aerobic training contributed to a diverse gut microbiome and overall functionality of the bacteria, which contributed to overall wellness and health.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

It’s known that the over-consumption of alcohol is associated with gastritis or when the gut becomes inflamed. This inflammation can lead to heartburn, ulcers, and bacterial infections. Drinking too much alcohol is also associated with intestinal inflammation. Research shows that this may alter the microbiota, affecting how well it works and throwing it off balance.

Contact Us Today

Are you concerned about your gut health but don’t know where to start to fix it? Make an appointment at The Wellness Connection. Our expert staff is here for you no matter what. Whether you need a clinical nutritionist, physician, or fitness specialist, we have the knowledge to help you be your healthiest self. Contact us today and schedule an appointment!

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