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There’s a lot of talk about gut health in the wellness world. It’s not a fad or a gimmick, either. Gut health is one of the most vital aspects of wellness.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
The gut can refer to many things specifically, but generally, it involves the small and large intestine. Your microbiome is a vast network of bacteria, both beneficial and potentially harmful, that live in the large intestine.
Gut health is separate from digestion, although they’re closely related. Your gut health involves:
- Normal breakdown of foods in the small intestine
- Absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream through the tight junctions and cells in the small intestine
- Further absorption and production of nutrients in the large intestine
- Contribution to bacterial replenishment and replication in the colon
Your gut health can be “bad” for many reasons:
- If you have SIBO, Celiac disease, or some other condition that negatively impacts how the small intestine is able to break down or absorb nutrients
- If you have a leaky gut, which can lead to improper regulation of what is allowed to enter the bloodstream
- If you have nutrient deficiencies, IBD, or other conditions that negatively affect the large intestine
- If you have frequent exposure to antibiotics, which negatively impact bacterial balance in the microbiome
- If you eat a diet that is too low in fiber and fermented foods or probiotics
Gut health is important because it plays a major role in how your body is able to absorb nutrients. Your diet can be “perfect,” but if you can’t absorb the nutrients you’re eating, your body will still come up short.
Your immune system also mostly resides in the gut and your microbiome plays a key role in helping to modulate how immunity works in your body. You don’t want an underactive or overactive immune system.
How Do You Support Gut Health?
There are many simple ways to support good gut health.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients.
- Consume prebiotic foods that nourish the good gut bacteria.
- Eat fermented foods that replenish your good gut bacteria.
- Stay properly hydrated.
- Get enough sleep and physical activity.
- Manage your stress in healthy ways.
Even with doing everything “right,” you can still experience challenges to gut health. If you have an autoimmune disorder or other chronic diseases, you may need to do more to consistently support a healthy gut. (In tomorrow’s post, we’ll cover what leaky gut is and how to walk back from gut problems.)
Today’s Simple Step
Prebiotics are certain types of fiber that nourish the good bacteria in your gut. They don’t fully break down in the small intestine during the digestive process and arrive in your colon, ready to feed the microbiome. Prebiotics are different from probiotics but can be easily confused with them. Some of the best prebiotic foods are artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, and asparagus. (Learn more about prebiotics and healthy fiber in this blog post.)
This Onion Soup is a warming dish that is gut-friendly because of the prebiotic onions and the bone broth, which is rich in nutrients that support a healthy gut lining.