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How To Improve Gut Health Naturally (Easy Guide)

Keeping a healthy digestive system is important. Sometimes, though, it’s not as easy as it might seem. 

If you’re new to nutrition and healthy eating, you might find it hard to figure out which foods are good for you and which aren’t.

If that’s the case, you may want to read on to find out how and what to eat to improve your gut health. 

While supplements might be an easy way to do so, the best way to get results is to try natural methods.

So, what exactly can you do?

Gut health is vital for various reasons, and there are many ways you can improve it without using over-the-counter medications, prescription pills, or medications. Instead, you should try natural approaches.

You can easily improve your gut health through healthy eating and beneficial lifestyle changes without sacrificing your favorite foods and the way you live – you just simply have to make a few adjustments.

How can you improve your gut health naturally?

While it might seem difficult, improving your gut in a natural way isn’t that difficult. You just have to adjust your diet a little bit and maybe add a few foods to your daily meals.

1. Eat more whole grains.

Whole grains are an important source of nutrients for the health of your gut. They’re very high in fiber – a type of carb that improves digestion, helps foods pass through your digestive tract, and increases the feeling of fullness after eating.

Fiber also feeds the ‘good’ gut bacteria in your stomach, promoting healthy diversity in your digestive system.

Whole grains also contain loads of minerals that prevent various health conditions from developing. 

Most of them are especially rich in iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus.

Some of the best examples of whole grains include:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Whole-wheat bread

These foods are not only excellent for your digestive tract and gut health but also for other systems in your body.

2. Eat fermented foods.

Fermented foods are incredibly beneficial for a healthy gut.

During the fermentation process, various bacteria and metabolites are produced. Because of that, fermented foods contain live bacteria called probiotics that have an incredible amount of health benefits. 

For example, eating fermented food aids in digestion, boosts your immune system, and eases the symptoms of various digestive system issues. 

What’s more, eating this kind of food can also reduce your risk of other serious conditions thanks to the compounds found in them.

If you want to consume more fermented foods, try adding these to your diet:

  • Milk and yogurt
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Cider
  • Fermented sour pickles

Plus, the great thing about fermented food is that you can make most of them yourself at home using fresh ingredients.

3. Include more antioxidant-rich foods in your diet.

Antioxidants are plant compounds that help flush out free radicals from your body. This prevents oxidative stress and damage to your cells. 

Thanks to that, you’re at a lower risk of several chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

Antioxidants also fight against inflammation, which helps reduce the risk of several digestive system issues like GERD, acid reflux, IBS, and many more.

Most fresh fruits and vegetables contain lots of antioxidants, so strive to consume a lot of foods like spinach, kale, carrots, avocados, asparagus, apples, and many more.

What’s more, lots of whole grains also contain antioxidants, so make sure to consume these as well.

4. Limit sugar.

Sugar is a very inflammatory carbohydrate, especially for people with preexisting digestive system issues. 

Sugar is also a very caloric substance, and rapid weight gain has been linked to an increased risk of digestive system issues.

Because of that, it’s best to limit your intake of sugar-rich foods like candy, cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, and sugary beverages.

You can try replacing these with fruit, fruit-infused water, and low-calorie snacks.

5. Limit artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners might not contain sugar and calories, but they do contain harmful chemicals. 

In small quantities, adding artificial sweeteners to your diet is OK, but if you consume too many of them, you can develop some serious health issues.

Studies show that artificial sweeteners can cause healthy bacteria to turn diseased and attack the intestinal wall in your digestive tract. This can potentially lead to serious digestive system issues.

On the other hand, small quantities of artificial sweeteners can be good for you, as they don’t contain any calories, so they don’t lead to weight gain.

Because of that, it might be better for you to use fruits like dates or raisins to add sweetness to your meals and dishes.

That way, you can still reap some health benefits without sacrificing your health.

6. Limit your intake of dietary sodium.

Sodium is an important mineral for your health, but too much of it can be incredibly harmful to your health and digestive system.

Firstly, taking in too much dietary sodium raises your risk of high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. 

When it comes to the digestive system, consuming too much dietary salt leads to inflammation, indigestion, and constipation.

Too much sodium also leads to water retention, which makes you feel hungrier than you actually are. 

As a result, you are at a higher risk of gaining weight and developing digestive system issues.

As a result, it’s best to avoid high-salt foods if you want to keep your digestive system healthy. These include:

  • Processed foods
  • Smoked, cured, and canned meat and fish like bacon, cold cuts, ham, and similar
  • Canned foods
  • Salted nuts
  • Instant soups

While these are OK in moderation, it’s best to avoid them in large quantities.

7. Limit your alcohol intake.

Alcohol is bad for gut health, as it leads to inflammation. It may also damage and potentially kill the ‘good’ gut bacteria in your stomach, increasing your risk of infections and other diseases.

While moderate consumption of alcohol is dangerous, chronic alcohol intake reduces the number and diversity of the gut bacteria in your digestive tract. So, it’s important to avoid drinking too much alcohol.

If you’re going to indulge in alcohol, it might be best to stick to red wine. This type of alcoholic beverage is made with fermented grapes, so it does contain some health benefits.

Stronger liquor like vodka, tequila, rum, or whiskey is OK to consume but do so in moderation as well. 

They come with some health benefits too, but these benefits disappear the minute you drink too much.

8. Eat less processed food.

Processed foods are often loaded with salt, preservatives, added salt, and more sugar. These ingredients and substances lead to inflammation and irritation in your digestive tract, which is damaging to the health of your gut.

Fast food is also processed food that might even contain trans fat. This kind of fat not only raises your risk of cardiovascular conditions but also damages your gut.

What’s more, according to studies, people who consume a lot of processed foods have higher levels of harmful, damaging bacteria in their gut. 

This increases the risk of indigestion and other problems.

Instead of processed foods, try consuming more fresh produce like fish, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fruits.

9. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are often avoided on many diets. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake.

Fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the health of your digestive system and many other bodily processes. 

They also contain powerful antioxidants, which are also beneficial for your gut health.

In addition, fruits and veggies are rich in fiber – a nutrient that feeds the ‘good’ gut bacteria that keep your digestive system working properly.

When adding fruits and veggies to your diet, make sure to choose fresh produce. Canned varieties are often loaded with added sugars and often other preservatives. So, it’s best to avoid them.

Frozen veggies and fruits are also OK, but choose the versions without any other unnecessary ingredients. 

10. Try to exercise more.

While diet is very important to maintain good gut health, physical exercise is just as if not more important.

Moving your body boosts your metabolism, helps you lose weight, and improves your endurance. 

Strength exercise, on the other hand, helps you grow muscles, lose fat mass faster, and make you less fatigued.

Research also indicates that regular exercise improves your immune system, helping you stay healthy and free of disease.

To start, try working out for about 10-15 minutes every two days. After that, you can increase the amount of time and adjust your diet as well for the best results.

11. Avoid too much stress.

Unfortunately, stress is part of our everyday lives. But extreme stress can lead to more severe issues than just an occasional stressful day.

According to studies, stress increases gut motility and fluid secretion. Because of that, you are most likely to experience diarrhea or a frequent need to urinate when you’re dealing with a lot of stress.

On the other hand, stress can also slow down the emptying of your stomach, leading to constipation and other issues.

What’s more, excessive stress can even lead to stomach ulcers, which can negatively impact your digestion.

So, as hard as it can be sometimes, try to find techniques to help you relax and manage your stress levels.

12. Eat less animal protein.

In moderation, animal protein, such as poultry, beef, pork, or lamb, is safe for you. But those who eat a diet especially high in animal protein may experience harmful changes in their gut microbiome.

Too much animal protein leads to higher inflammation in your digestive tract, which can lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – a chronic condition that damages your gut and whole digestive system.

Because of that, you might be better off consuming plant-based proteins like legumes, beans, and lentils. You can also choose fish, which is much healthier for you.

Why is gut health important?

A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and enzymes that contribute to proper digestion, faster metabolism, and disease prevention. 

As a result, if you keep your gut healthy, you can help your body fight against viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Gut health also reduces your risk of common but preventable digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, and many more. 

So, you can see how important it is to keep your gut healthy and rich in friendly bacteria.

On top of that, your gut communicates with your brain and nervous system, helping in the maintenance of overall good health and wellbeing. 

Every single system and organ in your body is connected. So, keeping one healthy contributes to the health of the other ones.

Can you really improve your gut health naturally?

Supplements and other medications can help improve your digestive system and gut health. But fortunately, these are not the only ways you can get there.

Following the tips mentioned above can help you improve your digestive health without consuming any pills and supplements. 

Simply try following a healthy, varied diet without overdoing on processed foods and other foods containing additives.

While it might not seem easy, it’s pretty straightforward to improve your gut health naturally. After following these steps, wait about 2-3 weeks to notice positive changes.

If you don’t, however, you might want to talk to your doctors – sometimes, the reason for your gut problems might be some undiagnosed health condition.

Conclusion:

As you can see, there are many ways you can improve your gut health in a natural way. From eating more natural foods to exercising more frequently, there are various methods for keeping your digestive system in the best shape possible.

The foods mentioned above are not only beneficial for the health of your gut but also provide you with lots of nutrients. 

For example, they contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. All of them contribute to good health.

So, following these steps can help you stay as healthy as possible.

Sources: National Library of Medicine, PMC, and BMJ