By Kelly Springer, RD
At some point in your life, you’ve probably experienced digestive discomfort in the form of gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Well, you’re not alone. More than 100 million Americans have intestinal health problems, ranging from chronic constipation to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
These discomforts are signals that you need to improve your gut health. The good news is that if you mend your gut (intestinal) health, you are doing way more than aiding your digestion. You are improving your overall health.
Your gut is actually responsible for 70 to 90 percent of your immune system. You need your gut to be healthy in order to assimilate the nutrients you need for overall health.
What’s more, a healthy gut can improve your mood.
You can consider your gut to be your “second brain.” In fact, its nervous system actually has more neurotransmitters (mood boosters) than your brain.
In addition, your intestinal tract is home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms; there is 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body!
In order to establish a healthy gut, you need to make sure that the good bacteria in your intestines are thriving and the bad bacteria are not. Sadly, many factors in today’s normal lifestyles contribute to the production of unhealthy bacteria. These include taking antibiotics, stress, and eating processed food (particularly refined grains and sugars devoid of fiber).
So the first step to improving your gut health is to improve your diet. Try the 90/10 rule, which requires that 90 percent of the food you eat is wholesome and nutritious — and allows for some not-so-healthy treats from time to time.
A diet composed of plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit will make your digestive flora happy.
Fermented foods will further boost your healthy gut flora. Try kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi (a delicious Korean delight), or sauerkraut.
You should also keep your stress levels in check; consider yoga, tai chi, or meditation.
And the best way to assure that your healthy gut flora thrive is to take a probiotic along with your healthy, wholesome food plan.
My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive.
Many of the probiotics on the market do not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100 percent of the healthy flora in their capsules survive. Hence, you will quite literally thrive.
Since I have been taking Just Thrive probiotics, I feel more energetic and ready to take on any challenge! I have also noticed that I rarely catch colds, even when I am surrounded by people who have nasty bugs that are swarming around.
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