While the eyes may be the windows to the soul, the gut is the window to our real health. The epicenter of the body, the gut is what enables us to process and disperse nutrients. Any disruptions to gut health that manifest as pain or discomfort are telltale signs that all is not right. Poor gut health can also make the vitamins and nutrients we consume do less for us due to lack of absorption. This is why looking after gut health is so important!

Unfortunately, the medical community hasn’t given gut health its due in recent decades. As a result, many people are only beginning to understand the importance of looking after this part of the body as part of a plan to remain healthy, active, fit and free of disease. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn your gut health around if you haven’t been emphasizing gut-healthy practices in your lifestyle. What’s a good place to start with building a healthier, properly functioning gut? What you’ll soon discover is that “gut-friendly” health is really a holistic approach to overall health that incorporates many aspects of your lifestyle. Take a look at simple, effective gut-friendly tips that are perfect for people of all ages and stages! Boost your gut health naturally with these four tips.

Gut-Friendly Tip 1: Put the Focus on Gut Flora

The foundation of a healthy gut is healthy flora. Your gut is actually a very intricate, delicate ecosystem that’s comprised of specific bacteria that is mostly only found in the gut. The slightest loss of balance can throw gut and intestinal health into a tailspin! Fortunately, we can bring things back into balance pretty quickly with some small dietary tweaks.

Consuming probiotics is one of the most effective ways to keep the good bacteria in the gut balanced. You may be surprised to find plenty of foods that you like on the list of gut-friendly gems. Here’s a glance at the top foods for restoring good bacteria to the gut:

  • Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, cream and milk.
  • Sourdough bread.
  • Fermented vegetables (without vinegar).
  • Sauerkraut.

Generally, fresh fruits and vegetables are much better for the gut than processed, sugary foods. The benefit to maintaining good bacteria in your gut is that this helps to preserve gut lining. When your gut lining is weakened, this can result in a variety of gastrointestinal issues. Worse, inflammation can place you in danger for a variety of health issues.

Gut-Friendly Tip 2: Consumer More Fiber

Fiber is really the unsung hero of overall health! While there’s nothing glamorous about consuming the right amounts of fiber daily, this is one of the best ways to stay healthy and fit. How does fiber boost gut health? According to research, fiber-starved microbes in the gut will actually begin to feed on the gut’s protective lining. This can lead to disease, inflammation and chronic health conditions. Fibers derived from fruits, vegetables and whole grains are particularly beneficial for the gut because they arrive in the gut in a “whole” form that is superior to the fibers derived from processed foods. These “whole” fibers make it easier for gut microbes to extract the needed fiber, nutrients and energy.

What’s especially compelling about the fiber argument is that fiber appears to do more than simply stave off inflammation and disease. People pursuing weight loss stand to benefit from a fiber-related health boost. In one study, researchers found that adding more fiber to a diet actually shifted gut microbial profiles associated with obesity to ones associated with leaner bodies.

Gut-Friendly Tip 3: Use Better Sleep to Build a Healthier Gut

While the connection may not be obvious, sleep and gut health are linked. It’s all because the chemicals in the gut and brain actually communicate. That means that a disturbance in our circadian rhythm is communicated all the way down to the gut! Unfortunately, poor sleep can quickly impact the gut. In fact, studies show that people who enjoy good, proper nightly rest actually have better microbiome activity in their guts!

Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential for gut health! This means doing your best to fall asleep and wake up at the same times daily. Reducing distractions and disturbances from televisions, radios, phones and household noise is also important for fostering deep, productive sleep cycles!

Gut-Friendly Tip 4: Allow Your Gut to “Rest”

While some people use the term “intermittent fasting” to describe going periods of time without eating, it’s not necessary to take on any type of rigorous fasting regiment to enjoy the results of simply spacing out meals. Many people snack right up until bedtime. They may also grab for something to eat immediately after waking up. Unfortunately, this lifestyle doesn’t necessarily provide the gut with time to heal between digestion “sessions.”

The truth is that digestion is hard work for the gut. When we give the gut a few hours to take a break from digesting food, we give it an opportunity to heal. Most experts will say that taking a 12-hour break from eating is the best way to enjoy the benefits of “fasting” without necessarily partaking in a true, long fast. Here’s an easy example of a “pain-free” way to go 12 hours without eating without feeling like you’re making a big sacrifice:

  • Stop eating for the day at 7 p.m.
  • Go to bed at 10 p.m.
  • Wake up at 6 a.m.
  • Eat breakfast at 7 a.m.

Most people will not feel like they are “giving up” anything by following this schedule. What’s more, there are many benefits to trying to cut off your “snacking time” if you’re in the habit of eating right up until bedtime. Many people actually find that they are able to sleep better without being “full” when falling asleep. You may also find that you lose weight more easily as a result of this 12-hour food-free window. Of course, it’s important to speak with your doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet that involve fasting. While a 12-hour break is not considered drastic, you’ll need to make sure that going this long without food is considered safe based on your personal needs and health history.

Final Thoughts on Boosting Gut Health Naturally

These four tips can help you to lay the groundwork for a healthier, happier gut that is protected against inflammation, irritation and disease. It becomes very obvious that gut health is tightly linked with overall health once you dive in to take a look at the ways the gut interacts with the rest of the body. As a result, many people find that looking after gut health inevitably leads to a healthier body. It is especially important to begin focusing on nurturing your gut back to good health if you’re experiencing adverse symptoms like stomach cramps, constipation, bloody stool or upset stomach. These symptoms necessitate a visit to a doctor to rule out any serious causes. However, you may find that the symptoms you’re living with stem from poor gut health linked with diet and lifestyle habits.