In a healthy digestive system, the food you eat is broken down in the gut before it travels through the bloodstream to fuel and nourish your body. A healthy gut contains immune cells and healthy bacteria that fight off infectious bacteria, fungi, and viruses while communicating with the brain to help maintain overall health and well-being.
At Integrative Medica in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jake Schmutz, NMD, and Joshua Hersh, NMD, can help you learn lifestyle changes to strengthen your immune system, boost your mood, improve brain and heart health, and experience optimal digestion that’s free of discomfort.
Healthy lifestyle habits to improve gut health naturally
Changing your diet and cultivating healthy habits can go a long way toward establishing and maintaining a healthy gut. Simple lifestyle adjustments for a healthy gut include:
Eat more fiber and probiotics
Fiber is a plant-based substance found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, ranging from strawberries and apples to sweet potatoes and legumes. Whole grains and nuts also contain fiber. A diet that’s rich in fiber stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut and reduces the risk of metabolic diseases.
Probiotics help calm gastrointestinal conditions like constipation, diarrhea, or inflammatory bowel disease. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha, and can also be taken as supplements. Our team can help you determine which probiotic products are best suited to your individual needs.
Limit alcohol consumption
Consuming too much alcohol is linked to gastritis, or gut inflammation. Long-standing gut inflammation may cause ulcers, heartburn, chronic gastrointestinal discomfort, or bacterial infections. Excessive alcohol intake can also cause persistent intestinal inflammation that alters microbiota function and throws your gut flora off balance.
Stay physically active
Exercise increases the diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut, with or without a healthy diet. While longer endurance workouts and higher-intensity aerobic exercise offer the greatest benefits for gut health, any form of consistent physical activity promotes healthier and more diverse gut microbiota.
Reduce stress and anxiety
The brain and gut are intimately connected: Just think about the “butterflies” you get in your stomach when you’re nervous — being nervous is an emotional reaction that you experience in your gut!
Easing stress and anxiety can reduce the risk of uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms, including those caused by a chronic condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Simple ways to manage stress include getting enough sleep, spending time outdoors, taking a daily walk, and practicing deep breathing exercises that keep you in the present moment.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
Whether it’s abdominal discomfort, bloating, loose stools, constipation, nausea, or heartburn, everyone experiences digestive problems from time to time. But when symptoms persist — or when they’re accompanied by unexplained weight loss, blood in your stools, severe vomiting, or difficulty swallowing — you should schedule a visit with Dr. Schmutz or Dr. Hersh.
If you have questions about how you can support optimal gut health, the team at Integrative Medica can help. Call 801-676-9876 to reach our office in Salt Lake City, Utah, today, or use our easy online booking feature to make an appointment with our integrative medicine experts any time.