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Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness Newsletter
September 2019
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Improving Your Gut Health

Improving Your Gut Health

The gut plays a key role in your overall health and wellbeing. A healthy gut or microbiome can maintain proper digestive function, help control your weight, contribute to better brain health, mood, and immune health, and reduce inflammation.

Here are a few tips on how to achieve a healthy microbiome.

Enjoy Whole Grains, Nuts, Vegetables, Fresh Fruits, and Beans

Whole grains, including barley, oats, quinoa, and bulger, have fiber that we need to bulk up our intestines and to move things through. Whole grains then become a type of food for the bacteria living in the microbiome. These minute bacteria floating around in keep things running smoothly.

Eating more whole grains has been shown to increase the types and numbers of bacteria in our gut. The same is true for nuts; enjoy a variety of walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or almonds, remembering that a serving is what fits into the palm of your hand.

Whole, fresh vegetables, beans, and legumes, as well as a variety of fresh fruits, serve as nutrition for the bacteria in our gut. Shop your local farmers market for fresh, whole foods in season and prepare your microbiome for your locale.

Eat More Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have more good bacteria, which will improve your gut health. They contain a high count of beneficial lactobacilli bacteria. These bacteria also convert sugar to acids and alcohols.

Examples of fermented foods include:

  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Low-sugar plain yogurt

Spice Up Your Food

When cooking, go heavy on spices like ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Spices help rid your gut of harmful bacteria without damaging good bacteria.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Bad bacteria found in your mouth can travel to your stomach and cause problems. Help prevent this by brushing and flossing regularly.

Stay Away from Sugary Food

Sugar can cause inflammation in our systems, and in general, high amounts of sugar are bad for gut health. Additionally, sugar can cause yeast to grow, which deteriorates the delicate balance within the gut. Similarly, avoid prepackaged and processed food, which may have the same negative effects on your gut.

Limit Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners have a negative effect on the gut microbiome. According to research, aspartame increases blood sugar levels without allowing you to use the insulin made by your bodies.

Savor Dark Chocolate & Foods Rich in Polyphenols

Dark chocolate is rich in fiber and plant-based molecules known as polyphenols. These molecules travel into your intestines and are used as food by microbes. Foods that are rich in polyphenols have anti-inflammatory properties, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and decrease cellular stress.

Other food rich in polyphenols include:

  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Cocoa
  • Red grapes as well as wine made from red grapes
  • Almonds
  • Onions
  • Green tea
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