Nurture your gut

Your gut health is intricately linked to your overall well-being, affecting everything from digestion to immune function and even your mood.

| 26 Jan 2024 | 12:50

Your gut plays a pivotal role in your overall well-being, influencing digestion, nutrient absorption and immune function. By nurturing your gut through a balanced diet, probiotics and stress management, you can support your digestive health and your body’s ability to fend off illness.

Remember that a healthy gut isn’t just about digestion — it’s about strengthening your body’s first line of defense against infections and maintaining vibrant health from the inside out. The National Institutes of Health cite research saying the bacteria in your gut reduces your risk of diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriatic arthritis.

Gut health connection

Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, often referred to as your gut, is a complex system responsible for digesting food, absorbing nutrients and playing a crucial role in your immune response. It serves three primary roles: digestion, absorption and providing a microbiome.

Your gut breaks down the food you eat into essential nutrients that nourish your body. Nutrients from digested food are absorbed into the bloodstream through the gut lining. The GI tract hosts trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These microbes aid digestion, synthesize vitamins and even influence your mood. Healthline explains each person has more than 200 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi in their digestive tract. They vary between those that are harmful, healthy and essential.

Immune function

Your gut and immune system are deeply intertwined. About 70% of your immune cells reside in your gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).

The gut lining acts as a barrier, preventing harmful substances and pathogens from entering the bloodstream. Beneficial bacteria help regulate the immune system and protect against harmful invaders.

Tips for a healthy gut

Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. A diverse diet supports a diverse gut microbiome and a robust immune system. Fiber promotes regular bowel movements and feeds beneficial gut bacteria. Incorporate food like oats, beans and broccoli.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts found in yogurt, kefir and fermented foods like sauerkraut. They help maintain a balanced gut microbiome. Also helpful are prebiotic-rich foods such as garlic, onions and asparagus. Drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated is good for your health in many ways. Meanwhile, limit excessive sugar and processed food as it can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria.

Antibiotic use has also been linked to an unhealthy gut by researchers who published in “Nature,” so talk to your doctor about which antibiotics are essential and when alternatives might be possible.

Chronic stress can negatively affect gut health. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Get adequate sleep to allow your body’s immune cells to function optimally. Make it a priority to get enough sleep every night.

Physical activity supports gut motility and a healthy gut microbiome, so engage in regular exercise.