Gut health may not be at the top of mind when it comes to improving your wellbeing. Yet, more research is emerging about the interconnectedness between our emotional and physical health and the impact of our gut on both. Knowing how to improve gut health naturally is a worthwhile wellbeing investment.  

Eat Slowly

Changing how you eat can be as impactful as changing what you eat. Precision Nutrition includes “eating slowly” as one of their keystone habits for nutritional health. Indigestion and acid reflux is frequently caused by the onslaught of food sent to your stomach when you eat too fast. Eating slowly helps reduce the onset of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and promotes more complete digestion by helping your body absorb more nutrients. Eating slowly also helps promote better mindfulness as you work to improve gut health naturally.

Stay Hydrated

Your body needs water to promote better digestion and is a simple way to improve gut health naturally. Water helps break down food so that the food’s nutrients can be absorbed more easily, much like eating slowly. In addition, you are less likely to experience constipation when you give attention to hydrating adequately each day.

Reduce Processed Foods

Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food,” has named much of the food we consume today “edible foodlike substances.” He claims that stepping away from food as nature intended it is responsible for many of the health problems faced around the globe. Reducing processed foods by returning to his well-known mantra “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” is a good way to improve gut health naturally. Eating plant-based foods and lean proteins can have a positive effect on gut health. 

Boost Probiotics

Infusing your gut with live good bacteria in the form of probiotics is another recommended option to improve gut health naturally. Harvard Health recommends common foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses as good sources of natural probiotics. Over-the-counter supplements are also available, but are best used at the advice of a medical professional.  

Decrease Stress

Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) flare ups are closely correlated with high levels of stress. Anxiety and food exacerbate IBS symptoms and adjustments to these parts of your life can help improve gut health naturally. Addressing the underlying causes of stress and improving your mental health can have a direct impact on the health of your gut. Meditation, yoga, and talk therapy are all effective ways to reduce stress and flare-ups.   

Prioritize Sleep

The human body needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night to recover, restore, and refresh itself for optimal functioning. Dr. Ryan Barish, a functional lifestyle medicine physician with Henry Ford Health System explains that, “There’s still a lot we don’t know—we’re just scratching the surface, especially when it comes to how sleep influences our gut bacteria—but we do know that digestive health can play a role in how well someone sleeps, and sleep can affect how well the digestive system functions. It’s a two-way street.” Getting enough sleep each night can help improve gut health naturally. 

Choose one or two of our recommendations and begin to experiment with how to improve gut health naturally. Notice the impact it has on your physical and emotional wellbeing in the days and months to come.