There’s no denying it, gut health is a hot topic of discussion in the health and wellness world right now. Beverages like Kombucha and other gut friendly foods are being pushed down our throats from the media. Although the science is still emerging, there is in fact ample research that supports how the microbiome – the network of bacteria living in the gastrointestinal tract – can effect the immune system, inflammation control, and even risk levels for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Researchers have note that your gut’s role in metabolism and mood makes it a large player in achieving your fitness and weight goals.
We are all about maximizing our body’s capabilities to be the strongest and healthiest we can be. Part of doing so is making sure your microbiome is healthy and happy. Eating a diversified diet will help keep the good bacteria flowing through your body. In addition to a well balanced diet of probiotics, probiotics and fiber, there are certain lifestyle behaviors that will help improve your gut health.
Consider these four strategies to maximize your gut strength and make sure you’re ready to go while in the backcountry.
1. Get More Sleep
Your gut, like other parts of your body, functions on a circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is basically your body’s internal 24 hour clock that functions throughout the day and night. If you go to bed a lot later than your body is used to, it throws your circadian rhythm off balance. In terms of gut health, this means it can alter how good bacteria operates.
A recent study found that there is a relationship between gut microbiome composition, sleep habits and cognitive flexibility. Your gut is actually sometimes referred to as your “second brain” because of its many neurotransmitters and its links to brain functions.
The relationship with a healthy gut and sleep works both ways as well. A healthy gut can get you a better nights sleep according to science coach and nutrition therapist Christine Hansen. She notes how gut microbes can help reduce levels of cortisol, which is your hormone that regulates wakefulness.
2. Stress Reducing Activities
Much like sleep, gut health and stress are strongly correlated. Good bacteria in the gut can greatly reduce levels of stress, thus improving your gut.
According to Harvard Medical School experts, the gastrointestinal tract is involved in emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety. You know that gut wrenching feeling like your stomach is in a knot when you become really tense, that feeling is an imbalance that leads to more distress.
Activities such as yoga, meditation and taking walks outside and spending more time in nature can benefit both your mind, body and soul – and of course that means your gut!
3. Exercise More
If you read any health or fitness blogs they are all going to tell you the same thing, exercise more. For the sake of this post I am going to assume most of your are interested in exercising more or else you wouldn’t be here. Or maybe you already exercise plenty but want to know how it can improve your gut. Either way, studies show exercise alone can change the composition of microbes in your gut, independent of diet or antibiotics. How awesome is that!
Exercising has been linked to the microbiome’s production of short chain fatty acids that are linked to metabolic health, insulin sensitivity and food intake regulations. More exercise, healthier stomach.
4. Roll in the Mud
Its time to get down and dirty! Researchers are finding that we may be cleaning too much for our own good. Some bacteria is good and necessary for our well-being. People who go overboard with antibacterial cleaning products are killing the “good bugs” as well as the bad ones, which may end up doing more harm than good.
As we clean the surfaces of our car steering wheels, phones, workplaces and homes we are isolating ourselves from many bacteria and thus reducing our immunity to them. This means that a once harmless bacteria may now cause illness because of our lack of exposure to it. It can actually be better to have some exposure to certain bacterias to help keep our immune system strong.
While you don’t have to roll in the mud with the pigs on a farm, things like gardening and petting dogs are good ways to build up some tolerance and receive healthy bacteria. A good roll in the mud every now and then wouldn’t hurt though…
So there you have it, four ways you can improve your gut health without even lifting up a fork. In addition to all of these tips, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is also always a great way to keep your entire body and mind at top performance.
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Get that #BakcountryStrong Gut.