How Your Diet Affects Your Stomach Health
When it comes to your diet—it’s important to trust your gut.
Your gut microbiome is incredibly diverse, containing 50 trillion or more bacteria crucial for proper digestion. Not surprisingly, the rest of us feel off when our gut feels off too. This could signify that your current diet could be feeding harmful bacteria or causing inflammation or other problems. Here’s how to nourish your gut for a healthy life.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
A standard American diet doesn’t contain much fiber. Unfortunately, it’s reported that as many as 95 percent of adults and children in the US do not meet the daily fiber requirements. A low-fiber diet has been associated with high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, type 2 diabetes and more.
Both soluble and insoluble fibers are important for your gut for different reasons. The soluble fiber ferments intestinal bacteria to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and improve the function of the gut. In contrast, insoluble fibers are great for removing old, damaged cells from the colon to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Incorporate oatmeal, psyllium husk and other unprocessed or low-processed forms of fiber into your diet.
Avoid Refined Sugar
While we all love a good pastry or treat once in a while, Americans consume far too much sugar. It seems like refined sugar is in everything, including salad dressings and seemingly “healthy” foods. It’s important to read all food labels and avoid sugary drinks and foods that could make your gut health worse. After all, consuming refined sugar can damage the gut's good bacteria, leading to widespread inflammation.
Stay Away from Seed Oils
Vegetable and seed oils are quite common kitchen and restaurant staples. Unfortunately, highly processed oils such as canola, soy or corn are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. While you might think that sounds like a good thing, omega-6 has contributed to widespread inflammation, increasing an individual’s risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. To protect your gut, avoid vegetable and seed oils and stick with olive oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil or ghee.
Add Probiotics Into the Mix
Probiotics are the good “gut bugs” people need to support a healthy gut. Probiotics can be found in certain yogurts and dairy products; however, you can also find probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. You may also take a daily probiotic, especially if your gut needs a little extra support (e.g., you’re dealing with a virus or taking antibiotics).
If you have concerns or issues with your gut, it’s always best to turn to a gastroenterologist to find out what’s going on, especially if symptoms persist for weeks. A gastroenterologist can tell you which foods to consume and avoid and what supplements could support a healthy gut.