We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more.
These bacteria, yeasts, and viruses — of which there are
Many microbes are beneficial for human health, and some are even essential. Others can be harmful, especially when they multiply.
In this article, we list 10 scientifically supported ways to improve the gut microbiome and enhance overall health.
Kimchi may help improve gut health.
To boost the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in the gut, some people choose to take probiotic supplements.
These are available in health food stores, drug stores, and online.
Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics.
Consuming the following foods regularly may improve gut health:
- fermented vegetables
Probiotics feed on nondigestible carbohydrates called prebiotics. This process encourages beneficial bacteria to multiply in the gut.
People who want to enhance their gut health may wish to include more of the following prebiotic-rich foods in their diet:
Eating a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners may cause gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of gut microbes.
The authors of a
Managing stress is important for many aspects of health, including gut health.
In humans, a
- psychological stress
- environmental stress, such as extreme heat, cold, or noise
- sleep deprivation
- disruption of the circadian rhythm
Some stress management techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Exercising regularly, sleeping well, and eating a healthful diet can also reduce stress levels.
Although it is often necessary to take antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, overuse is a significant public health concern that can lead to antibiotic resistance.
According to the
As a result, the CDC recommend that people discuss antibiotics and alternative options with their doctor before use.
Working out may increase species diversity. A
However, the athletes also ate a different diet to the control group, which could account for the differences in their microbiomes.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults engage in
Getting enough good-quality sleep can improve mood, cognition, and gut health.
Establish healthful sleep habits by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Adults should get at least
Just as antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiota, so too can disinfectant cleaning products, according to the results of one study. The
The researchers found that those who lived in homes where people used disinfectant cleaning products at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of Lachnospiraceae gut microbes, a type
At age 3, these infants had a higher body mass index (BMI) than children without exposure to such high levels of disinfectants.
Smoking affects gut health as well as the health of the heart and lungs. It also greatly increases the risk of cancer.
These effects may increase the risk of intestinal and systemic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
A vegetarian diet may improve gut health due to the high levels of prebiotic fiber it contains.
For example, in one
At the end of the study, the participants had lower levels of gut inflammation due to the altered types of gut microbes. They had also lost weight.
Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function.
By making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, people can alter the diversity and number of microbes in their gut for the better.
Positive changes a person can make include taking probiotics, following a fiber-rich vegetarian diet, and avoiding the unnecessary use of antibiotics and disinfectants.
Other simple lifestyle changes a person can make include getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
However, a person should talk to their doctor before making any drastic changes to their diet. This is because for some people, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome or other medical conditions, probiotics and fiber-rich or vegetarian diets may not be helpful.