By: Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
From transporting the food from your mouth to your stomach, converting it into absorbable nutrients, to eliminating the waste and getting it out of the body, the gastrointestinal tract plays a very important role in overall health. You can exercise religiously and get plenty of sleep each night, but your overall health might suffer if you’re not paying attention to your gut health.
When you think of your overall health, you’ve probably never thought about your gut health, right? To be fair, most people probably don’t. Why is that? Well, we tend to look at our health from a physical standpoint as well as “how we feel.” The problem with the mentality of only focusing on your health when it starts to fail is that, at that point, it’s already too late. Therefore, we need to be productive when it comes to our overall health, and for many, they need to take a deeper look into their gut health.
Scientists commonly refer to gut health as the “second brain.” A simple problem like a stomach ache or bloating (as little as they may be in the grand scheme of things) can make you feel uncomfortable and ruin your entire day. Various factors, like poor eating habits, heavy meals, etc., can lead to an imbalance in the gut system and cause issues.
In this article, we will take a deeper look into the importance of gut health and how it affects weight loss. We will also provide some foods you can add to your nutrition plan to help improve your overall gut health.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before engaging in any exercise program, changing your nutrition, or adding any supplements to your current regimen.
The Importance of Gut Health
Do you know that 90% of the serotonin (the feel-good/happy hormone) is produced in the gut? So, from your mood to your weight, gut health helps in the overall development.
A healthy digestive system is imperative as it helps break down the food you eat, absorb the nutrients, and eliminate waste from the body. Also, a healthy gut helps ward off viruses and harmful pathogens, allowing you to maintain proper health and well-being.
Related Article: Protein Farts — What Causes Them & Preventing Room-Clearing Gas
Here are a few reasons as to why you may have an imbalance in gut health:
- Excess stress
- Bad sleep cycle
- Poor or improper diet
- Excessive intake of antibiotics
- Too much consumption of alcohol
Gut Health and Weight Loss
There are trillions of bacteria present in your body that support the immune system, serotonin production, and that help to boost energy levels. Gut bacteria affect the way you consume and digest food, how you store fat, and the production of chemicals that make you feel hungry (such as the hunger hormone ghrelin). Some of the latest research has also shown that your gut bacteria’s composition is directly linked to your ability to manage your body weight.
Gut-Friendly Foods to Include in Your Diet
There are many foods you can consume daily that can contribute to gut health. Which are the best? Check out some of the best and most common options below.
While sauerkraut wouldn’t top your list of foods that can help improve gut health, it’s one you should consider having in your arsenal. Sauerkraut contains healthy probiotics and is known for possessing immune-boosting properties. Including sauerkraut in some of your meals throughout the week can keep the lining of the digestive tract healthy. This is important as a healthy gut lining can prevent toxins and pathogens from leaking into the body and potentially doing harm.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are one of the easiest things to include in your diet to improve gut health. Include items like spinach, kale, and broccoli whenever possible. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, iron, etc., and can improve your gut system. According to a study, green leafy vegetables contain a sugar molecule that helps in feeding the gut bacteria, which in turn prevents the harmful bacteria from taking over. Consider adding them to your meals or even tossing in some spinach or kale into your protein shakes or smoothies.
Related Article: 8 Reasons You Should Add a Greens Drink to Your Daily Rituals
Want to add something tasty and nutritious to your breakfast? Maybe you’re looking for a healthy snack? Choose yogurt! It is an excellent source of probiotics, also known as live and friendly bacteria. Made from fermented milk, it is known best for improving digestion and maintaining gut health. If you want to kick up your protein content, consider utilizing Greek yogurt. You can even throw in a banana to further improve your gut health (which we will touch on shortly).
Known for their probiotic properties, almonds are rich in various micronutrients like vitamin E, fiber, fatty acids, etc., that can help preserve and improve gut health. Also, almonds make a fantastic snack that can help improve satiety and help combat hunger pangs you may experience throughout the day (generally between meals). They are also easy enough to keep in your desk at work.
Made from fermented soybeans, miso contains various helpful bacteria and enzymes. It can be used in dips, dressings, and even be used as a marinade for tofu (if you prefer plant-based protein sources). Miso can also help in healing intestinal illness and promotes overall gut health.
Olive oil is an excellent source of fatty acids and polyphenols that can reduce inflammation in the gut and body. You can use olive oil for cooking, drizzled over pasta, used as a salad dressing, and many more uses — be creative. The use of olive oil can also help ease common digestive issues such as indigestion.
Who doesn’t like this delicious yellow fruit? It is one of the healthiest snacks that can help stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and aid in fighting inflammation. Bananas contain essential minerals and have an antacid effect that can neutralize the acidity in the stomach. The next time you feel your gut is out of balance, grab a banana. It can also help ward off cramping during intense training sessions.
Just like oxygen, water is also essential for the body. This should come as no surprise since the body is primarily 60% of this substance. Water helps to properly absorb nutrients and eliminate any waste and toxins that need to be removed from the body. What’s the best thing you can do? Carry a water bottle around with you wherever you go. Sip on it throughout the day, and when it’s empty, simply fill it back up.
Avocado is a perfect superfood, rich in micronutrients, which help keep the intestines healthy and promotes digestion. It also reduces the chances of gas, as it’s a low-fructose food. If you are prone to bloating and gas, try to reduce fructose consumption from your diet. Many people include avocado in their meals as a standalone, while others like using it as a spread (such as the ever-famous avocado toast).
Don’t Neglect Your Gut Health — Three Supplements to Consider
By paying close attention to your gut health, you have the ability to improve your overall health. Try to incorporate the foods mentioned above into your diet, and soon you may notice an improvement. Also, pay close attention to your weight. Once you improve your gut health, it’s not uncommon to see the number on the scale slowly decrease.
To help further improve your gut health, there are three supplements we would recommend that you may find beneficial:
MuscleSport Detox — When gut health is compromised, you may find you suffer from bloating and GI distress. The purpose of Detox is to help support gut health by including probiotics and other vital ingredients to help support healthy gut bacteria while also promoting a full body cleanse.
MuscleSport Enzyme Revolution — An issue that arises in many people is that they can’t effectively break down and absorb the food they consume. Enzyme Revolution is an advanced digestive enzyme support supplement that helps facilitate the natural digestive process by aiding in the proper breakdown of fats, carbs, and protein. This can help prevent bloating and digestive distress.
MuscleSport Fruits & Greens — You’re probably not consuming adequate amounts of fruits and veggies in your diet (don’t worry, you’re not alone). Fruits & Greens is a delicious powder that contains over 40 plant-based ingredients, prebiotic fiber and digestive enzymes to support gut health, and patented ProbiferrinO®to support body alkalinity and total body wellness.
Try one or all of these MuscleSport products to help support your gut health and overall wellness!