Most of us only think about our gut bacteria when they're in trouble! When we start experiencing the symptoms of dysbiosis – such as indigestion, gas, bloating and other problems – we might seek out solutions such as a good probiotic or some dietary changes. Then, when the symptoms reduce, we go back to our bad habits that caused the problem in the first place.
But if you maintain the health of your gut bacteria consistently, it’s not just indigestion you’ll avoid. You’ll also have more energy, your skin will be clearer, your moods will be more stable, and you’ll catch fewer infections.
Looking after your gut bacteria EVERY DAY is super-important in order to prevent those problems arising again. Here’s how to do it!
It’s no secret that hydration is vital for your health. We’ve been told for years that we need at least 8 glasses of water a day. But do you really get around to drinking that much?
The truth is that 8 glasses aren’t necessarily the best way to hydrate yourself. Drinking a large amount of water all in one go can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. It’s far better to carry a bottle around with you and take sips throughout the day.
You’ll find that the more often you sip, the easier it is to drink more and more. Before you know it, you’ll have finished a liter and need to fill up again!
Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your body – and your gut.
Researchers investigated the microbiome of participants after a six-week exercise program. They found that the bacteria profile of each participant had changed significantly, with some showing higher amounts of certain microbes and others showing lower amounts. (2)
Most showed an increase in the species of bacteria that are involved with the production of short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids play an important role in reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, obesity.
If you find that exercise is boring, make sure you vary it every day. This provides your body (and mind!) with different challenges. Switch between walking and swimming, cycling and boxing, or even Zumba classes.
While we’re on the topic of relaxation, it’s vital to start thinking about how much sleep you get – or don’t get – each night.
Long-term sleep deprivation can interfere with the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, which in turn upsets your immune system and increases your susceptibility to infection. In fact, just a few bad nights can start to compromise your gut health!
A recent study involving young adults of healthy weight found that as little as two consecutive nights of poor sleep resulted in detrimental changes to the gut microbiome.
When the participants slept for only four and a half hours each night for two consecutive nights, the numbers of healthy bacterial strains in their digestive tracts were reduced by almost 50%. (3)
Aim to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Set yourself a bedtime – say 10pm – and stick to it!
Meditation is a highly effective method for tackling stress – and stress destroys gut bacteria. Chronic stress can actually deplete the numbers of healthy bacteria in your gut, leading to chronic health issues.
Meditation can reduce stress and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. This can benefit your entire body and mind.
One study investigated 19 patients with digestive issues who took part in a 9-week meditation-based course. Each of the participants reported a significant decrease in symptoms such as gas, bloating and cramping. They also showed important genetic changes related to the stress response. (4)
Learn how to meditate, or just how to breathe deeply using your diaphragm. It allows your body to switch off the ‘fight or flight’ stress response and return to ‘rest and digest’ so that healing can begin in your gut.
There are billions of diets you can follow – but the only real diet you need is one with lots of healthy, interesting foods! You’re far more likely to stick to a diet if you actually enjoy what you’re eating. And if the foods are healthy (yes, it’s possible!) they’ll be helping your gut bacteria to stay in shape, too!
There are all sorts of gut-friendly foods out there that are both delicious and fun to eat. Explore foods from different cultures, such as Polish or Korean.
Korean cuisine embraces fermented foods, which are rich in probiotic bacteria. Try kimchi with your meals, or tofu. Pickled foods eaten in Eastern European countries also harbor all sorts of health benefit for your gut. Japanese food such as miso is a fantastic gut-healing type of soup, and kombucha is a type of fermented tea that originated in Russia.
Having fun is good for your gut! Researchers have shown that extroverted chimps tend to have a more diverse gut microbiome than chimps who are less socially active. This has led to the suggestion that social interaction has a larger influence on gut health than previously thought.
It’s also been found in other studies that loneliness can have a seriously negative impact on your physical and mental health, which in turn can affect your very cells. (5)
If you tend to be a bit lonely at times, try to keep up your social interaction by joining a club or starting a new hobby. Even going to the gym can help you to meet new people and interact with others. And it could spell numerous benefits for your physical and mental health!
This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your gut health.
In countless research studies, probiotic supplements have been proven to improve gut health, boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and much more. There is truly no better way to give your gut a helping hand.
When you buy a probiotic, make sure that it will actually deliver its bacteria past your stomach acid - most probiotics won't do this.
Our Balance ONE Probiotic uses a time-release technology named BIO-tract technology to compress its bacteria into tablets. Tests have shown that this delivers 15 times as many bacteria to the gut, compared to regular probiotics. That makes it more effective, better value, and a great choice for your gut.