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4 tips for a happier gut and a healthier you

March 20, 2019 GMT

(BPT) - Who could have guessed the popular term, “trust your gut” would become one of the ultimate, trending wellness tips for 2019? With 80 percent of our immune system residing there, the state of our gut helps determine how we feel, physically and mentally, most days. In fact, the relationship between good and bad gut bacteria is the secret to a healthier you. Simply put, when your gut bacteria are properly in balance and your gut is happy, you have a thriving population of beneficial bacteria supporting your immune system. When your gut is not happy, digestive issues, immune imbalance and weight fluctuations can naturally occur, along with common undesirable symptoms including everything from occasional gas, bloating, constipation and stomach upset, to sleep and mood disturbances, and food sensitivities.

Thankfully, people listen to their gut. In a recent survey1 conducted by MegaFood ®, the maker of premium supplements crafted with real foods and added nutrients, over 60 percent of respondents feel their gut health has a large impact on overall health and wellness, and they’re right about that. How our bodies feel and perform is a direct reflection of the health of our gut. With a fresh new year in full swing, now is the perfect time to reevaluate your wellness routine to ensure your gut is happy and that you’re feeling your best throughout 2019 and beyond.

Tieraona Low Dog, MD, integrative health expert and chief medical adviser for MegaFood, shares four fundamental tips on the ways in which you can optimize and support a healthy gut:

Know the signs — According to the survey, only 40 percent of respondents2 are able to pinpoint telltale signs (like severe gas, bloating and/or stomach pain) that their gut health is out of balance. Each body is different and knowing how your gut reacts when it’s not at its healthiest is paramount. Does your skin break out after eating certain foods? Are you tired or irritable daily? Learn how to recognize what causes your body discomfort so you can develop a care plan to combat your symptoms. Whether that means removing certain foods or food groups for a period of time to determine what is causing an abnormal reaction or investing in an at-home gut health test, there are many ways to monitor your gut to get a better idea of what your body needs.

Food for thought — Once you have an idea of what may be compromising your gut health, it’s time to implement that insight into your diet. Having a wide range of foods in your diet, especially high-fiber fruits and vegetables, results in a greater diversity of what’s known as your “microbiota.” This complex community is composed of trillions of microorganisms that inhabit your skin, nose, mouth, gut and more, and plays a vital role in maintaining your health. These little microbes extract and synthesize vitamins and other nutrients from your food. They regulate digestion, metabolism and elimination, and fine-tune your immune system. Be sure to include probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, low sugar yogurt and fermented soy in your diet. You can also eat more prebiotic foods such as oats, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes and whole grains to promote the growth of healthy microbiota. Consider how your food is grown. Herbicides, including glyphosate — the number one herbicide in the world — are found on many of the foods we eat. Animal studies suggest that glyphosate can disrupt the microbiota, decreasing diversity and numbers of beneficial bacteria. Choose organic foods and products labeled Glyphosate Residue-Free whenever possible.

Be proactive with probiotics — Seventy-three percent of respondents3 aren’t taking a probiotic supplement to support their overall gut health. However, probiotics are one important way to help maintain a healthy functioning digestive system.* Optimizing and supporting the beneficial bacteria in your gut is one of the best things you can do for your health. Newer options, such as MegaFood’s line of shelf-stable probiotics, not only address specific needs, such as Women’s Health*, Mood* and Energy*, but can be taken on-the-go, with no need for refrigeration.

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Reduce stress — Lessening the amount of stress in your life can help improve your gut health, which may lead to improved mood and better sleep. Exercise is a great way to relinquish pent-up stress and even increases the number of microbes your body needs to help healthy digestive functions. At the same time, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough quality rest. Sleep deprivation can increase stress and diminish bacteria diversity. Decompressing can seem easier said than done, but find an outlet that works best for you, whether that be mind-body practices such as yoga and breathing, long walks on the beach or in the forest or “unplugging” from technology.

In addition to these tips, remember there are things to avoid when it comes to maintaining a healthy gut. Processed meats, sugar, excessive alcohol, fried foods and saturated fats can negatively alter your gut flora. Unfortunately, antibiotics are also a known disrupter of the gut microflora. While they’re sometimes unavoidable for the treatment of non-viral infections, make sure to restore the balance to your gut with probiotics and fermented foods and beverages.*

This year, resolve to pay careful attention to your gut in an effort to achieve great wellness for many years to come. Your gut will thank you!

If you still have personal questions about your digestive health, speaking with a natural healthcare practitioner may be just what you need.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

[1] Distributed to 1,000 consumers nationwide via Pollfish in January 2019

[2] According to Pollfish survey data, January 2019

[3] According to Pollfish survey data, January 2019