Gut health is getting a lot of attention these days and for good reason. There are roughly 10 times more bacteria than cells in your body and an estimated 400 different types of bacteria in the intestinal tract alone, which work closely with your enteric nervous system to signal hunger, mood, illness and other internal cues. This concentration of bacteria in the gut is a large reason many health professionals believe in the gut-brain health connection, and that a larger, more diverse and balanced microbiome equals a healthier body. Lets know some facts about why Gut Health is important: Often referred to as the ‘second brain’, the gut, or microbiome, is involved in many bodily functions and has been closely linked to health. Everything from mood to immunity to digestion, disease prevention. While most people share a core makeup of microorganism species, the amounts of each vary to great extend person to person. This individual makeup is influenced by genetics, environment, stress, lifestyle habits, age, fat tissue, exercise, disease conditions and food intake. It is this unique gut biome makeup that can affect health outcomes and why working to promote a healthy gut is so important.

PROBIOTICS AND YOUR GUT Prebiotics are beneficial bacteria that inhabit your gut and support healthful life functions such as food digestion, the absorption of nutrients and healthier skin. What throws this healthy balance off is poor lifestyle factors and bad diet choice which kill off the healthy bacteria and result in a sluggish body and potential poor health outcomes. Probiotics have been studied extensively in the digestive process, but also have been linked to just about every other health indicator, including diabetes, immunity and weight. In fact it has been show that obese individuals have a different gut biome than lean individuals. In a simple language I would say, prebiotics are the “foods” that feed the probiotics. While probiotics refer to the beneficial bacteria throughout our gastrointestinal tract, prebiotics refer to the substances probiotics survive on, including many fruits and vegetables. PROBIOTICS NEED PREBIOTICS Consuming probiotics, even through natural food sources, isn’t enough to reap the full benefits. These bugs need to eat, and it is your job to feed them with their nutrition of choice: prebiotics. : Prebiotics are nondigestible food substances that enhance the effects of probiotics by helping them thrive and stay active. Foods such as bananas, chia seeds, wheat, onions, chicory and artichokes are all sources of prebiotics add these into your daily intake to improve performance.

3 WAYS TO BOOST GUT HEALTH 1. OPT FOR READY-TO-EAT FOODS WITH PROBIOTICS If you’re short on time, choose convenient, portable foods and drinks that offer probiotics. Single-serving yogurt, cottage cheese are no longer your only options. You can find fermentedmilk in individual dairy cups, protein smoothies, and sparkling drinks. You can also snack on chips with probiotics and add probiotic packets into your water or drink probiotic juices. 2. EAT MORE PREBIOTIC FOODS Remember, you can’t have gut health without prebiotics. Choosing good prebiotic foods also works to enhance your overall diet, since many provide ample fiber as well. Start small if you’re just starting to consume prebiotics to minimize bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort. Garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, apples, oats, barley, wheat bran and chicory root are great food sources of prebiotics. Try cooking with garlic or leeks to add additional flavor to your dishes or start small by eating an apple as a snack. Don’t be surprised if you see other health benefits by including these foods, too! 3. EXERCISE BOOSTS GUT HEALTH Regular exercise being beneficial for the gut, and a healthy gut is undoubtedly linked to a healthy mind and body.Engaging in regular physical activity creates positive biome changes. Exercise improved prevalence of disease protective bacteria strains. Mice fed a high-fat, obesity-inducing diet who also were subjected to exercise saw a conversion of gut biome makeup resembling lean mice, indicating exercise can combat a poor diet.

For those looking to have good health and performance, enhancing the gut biome should be on your to-do list. In addition to regular physical activity, there are many dietary steps one can take to improve the gut microbiome. One can opt for whole foods that naturally stimulate a diverse bacterial environment; consume naturally fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi salad, soybeans sauce, pickles, and sourdough bread. Probiotic foods alone are not enough to stimulate growth of these good bugs; they need to be fed prebiotics from sources such as, garlic, asparagus and bananas. Limiting highly refined, processed foods and artificial ingredients will limit gastric inflammation, making a nice environment for your bacteria to flourish in. The hopes of improved performance should be a great motivator to make dietary improvements.

Diksha Kashyap
Oct. 26, 2020, 4:58 p.m.

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