Your gut is home to millions upon millions of microorganisms that help with digestion. Medical professionals are starting to realize that they impact much more than that, though. Here are five ways to encourage a healthy gut microbiome for healthy digestion, faster metabolism, and better overall health.
Boost Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are produced by your body to break down food into smaller pieces that can then be used by your body. They have specific functions and are broken into distinct categories depending on the type of foods they break down. Amylase, for example, digest starches, breaking them down into simple sugars that can be absorbed into your body while protease breaks proteins into peptides and amino acids.
Adding an enzyme supplement may help your body to better break down foods into smaller units that are more easily used by your body. This may, in turn, help speed up the rate of digestion.
Focus on Fiber
Fiber is a key component of maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria. It can also help to keep your digestive tract functioning smoothly and steadily. Fiber is not digested in the stomach. Instead, it passes whole into the intestines where it serves as food for healthy gut bacteria that are linked to lower rates of obesity and several chronic health conditions. Without enough food, these beneficial bacteria cannot thrive.
Despite this, many people do not get the daily recommended amount of fiber. It is easy to up your fiber intake, though. Look for high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and beans that can be added to your regular routine.
Increase Prebiotics and Probiotics
When you are trying to cultivate good bacteria within the gut microbiome, prebiotics and probiotics can also help. They work to create a healthy environment and also serve as food for the bacteria.
Prebiotics are basically plant-based fiber. They can be found in many plant foods like fruits and vegetables that have high levels of complex carbohydrates. Many people believe they are a big part of the reason plant-based diets are linked to positive health outcomes. If you aren't consuming enough of these foods, there are many prebiotic supplements that may be able to help you boost gut health.
Probiotics, on the other hand, are full of bacteria that can work to colonize your digestive system. Fermented foods and those with live cultures, like yogurt, are often chosen because they contain high levels of probiotic microbes. You can often find foods and supplements that are marketed toward specific health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut.
Water is crucial to every single function that goes on within the human body. That includes aiding with digestion. Water helps break down food particles like soluble fiber so they are more easily digested and utilized. It also helps extract nutrients from food so they can be carried throughout the body.
It helps ensure that stool is soft enough to pass through your intestines. Without enough water, your digestive system can easily become blocked, leading to constipation. Water flushes toxins from the kidneys, liver, and intestines, too.
Exercise can help boost metabolism and aid in digestion. When you perform moderate to rigorous activity, you increase circulation throughout your body. This increased blood supply reaches internal organs, including the digestive tract, and encourages muscles to carry food and waste along. Studies indicate this can help reduce symptoms of chronic digestive conditions. Exercise also appears to impact the diversity of gut bacteria, encouraging healthy microbes while discouraging harmful ones.
While researchers are still working to fully understand interactions between nutrients and activity levels with the gut microbiome, they do know connections exist. Encouraging healthy digestion can impact your metabolism and overall wellness in many ways. When you consider the sheer size of your digestive tract (over 30 feet) and that it can take well over a day to fully digest food, it is no wonder that digestion plays such a big role.