Dr. Clayton Lawrence, CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on overall wellness in an otherwise toxic world. (Always consult with your own physician before beginning any new diet/exercise routine).
If you’re like most people, you underestimate the power of your gut. If you think your tummy’s sole responsibility is simply to take in the food that you put in your mouth, think again. The digestive track is a complicated system that actually has a big impact on overall health. Not only does the bacteria that live in the gut help provide us with the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to absorb from food and drink, it plays an important role in eliminating disease-causing bacteria.
We’re all familiar with the affect that a strong dose of antibiotics can have on the stomach. While the medicine works to eliminate the bad bacteria in the body, it also strips the gut of healthy bacteria that is needed to feel our best. But a gut that is out of balance could be the last thing you think of when you are constantly tired, not sleeping well, getting rashes or experiencing unintentional weight changes, but when this control system is off, the entire body can be affected. It is important to recognize the gut for the miraculous role that it plays in our everyday lives and respect it as such by supporting it on a daily basis.
Here are a few ways you can ensure your gut flora is happy, healthy and thriving:
Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kefir, miso and kimchi.
Enjoy yogurt or make a smoothie to increase probiotics in the body.
Consider foods that are rich in prebiotics, like bananas, garlic and onions.
Eliminate extra weight, which can lead to digestive problems by exercising every day.
Get stress levels under control to reduce heartburn and acid.
Focus on your mental health to create a healthier brain-gut connection.
Stay hydrated, but avoid alcohol.
Consume fewer inflammatory foods, such as meat and dairy.
Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary and explore alternatives when possible.
Consider the benefits of a vegetarian diet, which will increase prebiotic fibers.
Increase fiber-rich foods like oats, raspberries, apples and artichokes.
Slow down when eating to help reduce digestive discomfort.
Consider whether food intolerances could be negatively affecting your stomach by keeping a food diary.
Stay away from artificial sweeteners, which could negatively affect blood sugar levels due to their effect on gut microbiota.
Reduce your intake of high-sugar, processed foods like soft drinks, chips and cookies.