We have all heard the term ‘you are what you eat’. The link between diet and gut health has been well established and in addition to the critical role that that gut health has to overall health, it is particularly important for the health of our immune system as approximately 80 percent of our immune system is found within the gut microbiome.
Improving gut health therefore is a great way to improve the health of your immune system and it doesn’t need to be complicated. There are simple, everyday actions you can take that will help improve gut health without needing to resort to medication or expensive supplements.
The key to a healthy gut is having good levels of beneficial gut bacteria. Fermented foods are a rich source of beneficial bacteria, enzymes and vitamins, so add them into your meals. Good options include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natural yoghurt and kombucha, which are all available at the supermarket.
Include prebiotics in your diet, as these are the fuel source for healthy bacteria. Foods high in prebiotics include leeks, garlic, onion, asparagus, dandelion greens, bananas and nuts.
Good digestion is important, so your body can fully absorb the nutrients available in food. If you drink a warm glass of water first thing in the morning with a dash or lemon juice or apple cider vinegar it will help to flush out the liver and wake up your digestive system. Have a small glass of water with a dash of apple cider vinegar approximately 10 minutes before you eat, as this will stimulate your stomach acid, improving digestion.
If your digestive system is particularly weak, you could consider taking a digestive enzyme with your main meals. This supplement will give you a wider range of enzymes to process and break down the food.
The timing of meals is important. If possible, make lunch your main meal of the day, so your body has more time to fully digest the meal at a time of day when you are more active. Cut out snacks and focus on good meals. Ideally you should wait 4-5 hours between meals so that your body can properly digest the meal, internal cleaning processes can take place and your body can get ready for the next meal. When you eat snacks between meals, it will disrupt this process and can cause digestive distress.
How we eat is just as important as what we eat. For optimal gut health, relax before you eat and eat slowly. Allow yourself 15-20 minutes to eat your meal. Chew every mouthful thoroughly, as undigested food particles are a fuel source for bad bacteria.
A strong gut is the foundation for a strong immune system. By taking steps to improve your gut health, you will be strengthening your immune system and setting yourself up for better health. Try incorporating some of these actions into your daily routine and see how they impact your overall health.