Our Gastroenterology Blog
Posts for tag: Gut 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.
The Gut-Brain Connection
Most people don’t think about how their guts impact the rest of their health, so you may be surprised to discover that the gut and brain are interconnected. This means that your anxiety and depression could actually be signs of gut issues. After all, the gut is where the majority of serotonin is produced and 70% of our immune system is also in our guts. For our guts to function optimally, and for us to feel our best, it’s important that we are feeding the good bacteria in our guts and protecting the gut from bad bacteria.
Know the Signs of Gut Issues
While most of us will experience gut problems at some point, it’s also important to recognize recurring or persistent symptoms that might warrant seeing a gastroenterologist for care. Signs of gut problems include,
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pains
- Loose stools
- Unexpected weight loss
Our food culture is based around a lot of fast, processed foods, so it’s not surprising that so many Americans are dealing with gut problems that could easily be remedied by simply improving their diet. Gut-healthy foods include,
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi provide the gut with prebiotics (which feed the probiotics or good bacteria in the gut)
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Fresh vegetables
- Live yogurt and kefir
- Lean protein such as wild-caught salmon
- Low fructose fruits such as berries and citrus fruits
American diets are high in sugar and bad fats, so it’s no surprise that our guts are in distress. Some of the most common gut offenders include,
- Low-fiber diets
- High sugar diets
- Vegetable and seed oils
When it comes to concerns about your health, trust your gut! Don’t ignore recurring digestive issues. A gastroenterologist can help you figure out what’s going on and how to best address these issues.