Gut and its role in overall well-being
We have always referred to the gut as something that helps in making decisions. Yes, we repeatedly mention ‘gut feeling’ when we want to make better decisions or trust a particular person or thing. But does a healthy gut really contribute to good decision-making? Well, it is a topic of intense debate and will need further clarification. As of now, we will discuss how gut or gastrointestinal health is important in boosting overall health, including brain and heart health.
The gut contains helpful bacteria that are necessary for the body to digest food, work on it, and contribute to better physical and mental well-being. Hence, your gut microbiome becomes the foundation of your health. If the good bacteria don’t work and reduce in number as compared to the harmful bacteria, it results in obstacles to digestive health, resulting in unhealthy body functioning and other issues. Hence, it becomes mandatory to strike a balance between good and bad gut bacteria in the digestive system and boost your de-stressing hormones and immune system.
Your gut is the vital organ that gets rid of the unnecessary wastes and toxins in your body. Imagine your house being dumped with garbage, used plastic bags, and stale food. Yeah, the same thing happens in your body when the wastes get stored as the food is not digested well. If the wastes are stored, and the beneficial bacteria do not work properly, you start experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, inflammation, illnesses, autoimmune disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more. It does not limit to physical symptoms. Your brain also suffers as the body’s immune system collapses, leading to brain fog, loss of cognitive abilities, and more.
Hence, it is essential to work on your gut and make it healthy, resulting in overall well-being.
How can you maintain a healthy gut?
- De-stress – One of the largest contributing factors to a leaky or unhealthy gut is stress. Your serotonin increases as you go through stress and the bad gut bacteria increases substantially.
- Nutrition – It is not all about protein that nourishes your body and makes you strong. You need to strike a balance between nourishing foods. Consume a moderate amount of all nutrients such as carbs, proteins, fiber, vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics, and others. Ask yourself every day – Am I eating healthy foods?
- Avoid consuming instant relief providers – If you constantly feed on medicines or over-the-counter acidity regulators and antacids or antibiotics, it results in the reduction of Vitamin B12 in the body and overall gut. It reduces the good and healthy bacteria in the gut and results in ineffective functioning. Hence, avoid such substances and eat healthy to prevent feeling acidic or gassy.
Why should you consume Prebiotics and Probiotics?
In a 2012 study, it was observed that more than 4 million grown-ups all over the world have been consuming prebiotics and probiotics, knowingly or unknowingly, for overall health and well-being. Research has supported the use of both of these substances in curing ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, cold, allergies, diarrheas, stomach discomfort, and digestive health issues.
Though more research is appreciated, some reports have mentioned that both of these gut-friendly substances can cure obesity issues, cancer, and arthritis as well.
Hence, if you are wondering whether you should add prebiotics and probiotics to your diet or not, you can refer to the above research reports. Plus, there are plenty of blogs, doctor’s recommendations, and experiences of healthy adults who have liked the health benefits of consuming these substances. So, why wait and watch instead of trying them out? But if you want to know how to add these substances to your routine safely and properly, then continue reading this post.
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are gut-friendly bacteria in one’s intestine that cannot be digested. Ultimately, they reach the digestive tract, where they join the other beneficial probiotic bacteria. These good gut bacteria break down the prebiotics and provide nutrition and energy to your body. Your colon strength improves, the overall inflammation in the body reduces, and your immunity experiences a boost.
How does Prebiotics help in improving your gut?
More substantial research is being conducted to prove the linkage between gut microbiome and prebiotics; we can still find plenty of health benefits as below:
- It regulates bowel movements, and problems such as bloating, constipation, and discomfort are reduced considerably.
- It establishes a harmonious relation of the neurotransmitters traveling between your gut and the brain to impact your mood favorably. You are no longer irritated, nervous, or confused as your gut is clear.
- It creates hormones properly to control appetite and signal your brain to stop eating when you are full. Thus, it aims to provide health benefits to weight watchers as well.
- It improves bone density as your body can absorb calcium and other minerals easily.
- It improves the inflammatory response of the body.
- It increases good bacteria and reduces bad bacteria, and prevents a number of diseases.
How can you obtain Prebiotics naturally?
Well, prebiotics is a particular type of dietary fiber and depend on your cooking style. At the same time, searching for foods containing prebiotics, ensure that they have fermentable soluble fiber. Cooking methods such as baking, cooking, deep-frying, and roasting also affect the level of prebiotics contained in them.
For example, potatoes can be baked in the microwave within a few minutes, but the resistant starch (an important aspect) is lesser. But if you boil the same potatoes and cool them down, you can find more resistant starch. Besides the ones mentioned below, you can also learn about more such Prebiotic Foods from here!
Apart from resistant starch, you should also need to consider inulin, another prebiotic fiber. It is mostly contained in several plants, but you can also find several supplements and capsules infused with it.
Following is a list of wholesome foods that you can add to consume a moderate dose of prebiotics:
a. Oats, rice, barley.
b. Beans and legumes.
c. Boiled potatoes.
d. Dandelion greens.
e. Leeks and onions.
f. Wild yams.
g. Soybean (you can find several soy products claiming to be infused with prebiotics).
h. Garlic (easy to use).
i. Chicory root.
j. Asparagus (it has been storming the internet).
How to consume Prebiotics and what to avoid?
- Once people realize the importance of prebiotics, they overdose on the same. Avoid this tendency. Overdose will do nothing but increase gas and bloating symptoms.
- Avoid eating prebiotic foods late in the evening or at night. For example, have a boiled potato in the morning instead of consuming it for dinner. Since your gut bacteria are active during the day, it will produce better results.
- If you have serious issues such as IBS, consult a professional physician before adding prebiotics to your diet. It is because some prebiotics is hard to digest for people suffering from such ailments.
- Eat in a natural way instead of processing them. For instance, a mango will do a good job. But if you are drinking the processed mango juice from a bottle, it might not contain the prebiotics in the desired form.
Prebiotic supplements are also great but ensure that they are of a reputed brand.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics refer to the live beneficial bacteria residing in one’s body. The point you need to note is that our body contains two types of gut bacteria, good and bad, and probiotics refer to the good ones. These good bacteria waive off the bad bacteria and help in several ways.
How do Probiotics help in improving your gut?
Probiotics are nothing but good and beneficial bacteria that keep your body healthy, promote a better immunity, and reduce inflammation. It helps in the following vital functions:
- It helps in the better digestion of food and water.
- It controls the bad bacteria and keeps you healthy. You don’t fall sick often.
- It generates essential vitamins in the body and their better absorption.
- It helps out the cells contained in your gut to stop bad bacteria from entering your body.
- It breaks down the food and water and lets them absorb properly.
How can you obtain Probiotics naturally?
You can find a great variety of probiotic foods and add them to your diet, besides the ones mentioned below, find out the list of Probiotic Foods. Some of them are given below:
- Specific milk products such as buttermilk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
- Kombucha. You can find this in supermarkets easily.
- Fermented pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Miso soup.
How to consume Probiotics and what to avoid?
It is convenient to consume probiotic foods. You don’t have to rush through supermarkets or spend time preparing these foods. Here are easy, health tips and things to avoid.
- You can consume probiotics at any point of the day. For instance, you can drink a glass of buttermilk in the morning, while at night, you can have miso soup.
- Check for certain labels. “Live and active cultures” is something you need to look for.
- Balance it out. Don’t overdose on anything. In fact, balance is the key to human health.
- You can add prebiotic foods too and call it a balance. It is easy to find foods containing probiotics and you can also take a prebiotic supplement.
- If you plan to consume a probiotic supplement, it is advisable to check with a doctor. In certain situations, a supplement should be avoided, and only a healthcare provider will be able to tell you that.
- Add simple, fermented foods such as buttermilk or yogurt to your diet and see the difference.
Gut flora isn’t a scientific term but slang dedicated to the good and bad bacteria thriving in one’s body, particularly the digestive tract. Most bacteria are present in the colon and small intestine, and each one of them has a specific job to do.
Bad flora refers to the bad bacteria that can result in an ailment in a human. The majority of them are found in the colon, and if they are not treated or discarded out of the body, they thrive and are not good for your overall health. It can result in a number of uncomfortable situations such as infections, pain, inflammation, and others.
Good flora refers to the good gut bacteria that are excellent for your health and keep track of the bad bacteria entering and thriving in your body. Yes, it performs dual functions of retaining the healthy bacteria and removing the non-essential ones. They contribute to vitamin synthesis, and immunity-boosting functions, clean your bowels and destroy bad bacteria.
Now, you can consume nutritious and fermented foods to check the good bacteria and keep the bad ones from entering your body, you can learn more about some Digestive Superfoods from here and find out what some of them are. But in certain situations, your good bacteria are at threat. For instance, when you consume antibiotics to get over an ailment, the medications attack the beneficial bacteria as well. This leads to complex health issues that need further attention and care from your side. Your gut flora and gut health are at risk, and you need to take proactive measures to deal with it.
For instance, if you can determine that stress is aggravating your problem, then keep it at bay. Try stress management techniques and let your body and mind be relaxed. Similarly, taking a supplement to fight the issues will help and protect your gut flora as well. Learn more about some of the Best Supplements for Gut Health that have both Live Probiotic Bacteria and Prebiotic Fibers in them.
If you want to maintain your gut flora and avoid complicated issues, you need to understand the significance of prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. These are not the same, even if there is a minute difference between both the words. Both these bacteria create a healthy setting for beneficial bacteria to live and grow in your body. These can be consumed through natural, wholesome foods, or good quality prebiotic or probiotic supplements can also be taken.
Finally, there isn’t any war between prebiotics and probiotics. Each of them is essential to let the good bacteria thrive in your body, keep the bad bacteria away and intensify your body’s immune response system. So, refer to this post whenever you want to clarify the difference between these substances and add them to your routine in an appropriate form. Certain fermented foods are the best, but probiotic supplements will also help.