Habits for a Healthy Gut

Elderly woman pouring juice for breakfast

Upset stomachs are fairly common ailments; many people experience upset stomachs on a daily basis. Your intestinal balance depends on various bacteria that naturally live in your gut. These bacteria provide the first line of defense, maintaining the immune system and strengthening the intestinal wall against harmful substances.

The intestinal bacteria living in our gut are typically classified as friendly and less friendly. Many factors contribute to an imbalance in friendly vs. less friendly bacteria. These include stress, aging, infection, tube feeding, food intake, chronic diarrhea, surgery, poor hygiene and antibiotics.

Fortunately, you can directly impact the amount of good bacteria in your gut with a few healthy habits.

Get some zzzzzs. Getting a proper amount of sleep helps regulate hormones in your gut and boost your immune system. This is especially relevant as 70% of the cells that make up your immune system are found in the walls of your intestines.

Make exercise a routine. Exercise offers many benefits, like weight maintenance, increased muscle strength and endurance, improved heart health and an improved mood. Exercise also plays a role in gut health. Just as with getting enough sleep, exercise strengthens our immune system. One recent study, “The Gut Microbiotia, Dietary Extremes and Exercise” published in the June 2014 issue of Gut, found there was a beneficial effect in the diversity of bacteria in the gut in people who exercise.

Stress less. Stress, whether mental or physical, can affect our health and has been linked to anxiety, depression, digestive ailments, heart disease, weight gain and sleep disturbance. In cases of mental stress, it’s important to find ways to help you cope. Each person is different: some rely on deep breathing or meditation, while others enjoy exercise, yoga, or simply relaxing and watching a favorite movie. Whatever your method, keep in mind that less stress is best!  

Feed the healthy bacteria with a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that help friendly bacteria grow and are found naturally in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic and whole grains. In comparison, probiotics are actual live, friendly bacteria. Probiotics can be found in yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.

Several types of probiotics are available as supplements, including Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. If you need to maintain your intestinal health, consider also adding the dietary supplement Diff-Stat to your daily routine. Diff-Stat contains 2 probiotics (Saccaryomyces boulardii and Bacillus coagulans) and one prebiotic (fructo-oligosaccharide) in a capsule or powder pack. For more information about how each of these ingredients works, click here.