Gut health isn't really something we think about too often. However, it is one of the most important aspects of our health and it's about time we stopped overlooking it.

Here are some research-backed ways to help you improve gut health.

Eat prebiotic fiber

The process of probiotics feeding on nondigestible carbs called prebiotics encourages beneficial gut bacteria to multiply. Research suggests that prebiotics may help probiotics become more tolerant under certain environmental conditions, such as temperature changes and pH. 

Some examples of prebiotic-rich food are:

  • Whole grains
  • Onion
  • Artichoke
  • Garlic
  • Chicory
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus

Eat fermented foods and take probiotics

Beneficial bacteria found in the gut are called probiotics. You may consider taking probiotics as research suggests that probiotics help support a healthy gut environment and could prevent gut inflammation in addition to other intestinal problems.

A natural source of probiotics are fermented foods such as:

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh

Lessen sugar and sweeteners

Overconsumption of sugar or artificial sweeteners could lead to gut dysbiosis, which is when gut microbes are imbalanced. It should come as no surprise that too much sugar negatively affects your gut microbiome. As such, be sure to consume sugar in moderation.

Reduce stress levels

Managing your stress level is an important factor to consider for many aspects of your health, and gut health is one of them. Studies suggest that too much stress can disrupt the microorganisms in your intestines, no matter how short-lived.

To manage stress, try meditation and deep breathing exercises. Exercising regularly and sleeping well also helps in reducing stress levels.

Antibiotics Antibiotics are proven to be harmful to your gut health when taken excessively. As such, be sure to take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary Photo: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay

Avoid overuse of antibiotics

Antibiotics are proven to be damaging to your gut microbiota and immunity. As such, it is important to remember not to take antibiotics unnecessarily.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep not only improves your mood and cognitive behavior, but it also improves gut health. An animal study in 2014 found that irregular sleeping habits had negative effects on the gut flora, increasing the risk of inflammatory conditions.

Avoid smoking

It’s widely known that smoking affects the health of your heart and lungs and increases the risk of cancer. However, it also affects your gut health. A study conducted over a 16-year period found that smoking increases potentially harmful microorganisms and decreases the levels of beneficial ones, thereby altering your intestinal flora. These effects could lead to intestinal conditions such as IBD or inflammatory bowel disease.

Eat more vegetables

Studies have found that there is a significant difference between the gut microbiomes of people who eat meat and vegetarians. Eating more vegetables improves gut health as a vegetarian diet contains high levels of prebiotic fiber.