GUT HEALTH: WHY IT MATTERS & HOW TO IMPROVE IT
Gut health. It sounds a little gross, and makes most people think about sitting on the toilet. I get it, gut health is not the sexiest subject around… But it’s so, so important, I couldn’t not post it.
So here we are, talking about… well, you know… What’s going on in your insides. FUN!
Before I dive right into it, I feel like this post needs a little disclaimer… Gut health is not really about pooping, there’s actually a lot more to it, even if bathroom trips are most likely the first thing most people think about when mentioning gut health.
And listen, I get it. For the longest time, I was a strong advocate of the “women don’t poop” movement. In fact, if someone asks me directly, I’ll for sure still maintain that I only go to the bathroom to pee (that being said, if you ask, you’re WEIRD).
But if there’s one thing I care about more than preserving the myth around my bathroom habits, it’s my health. And The Hungarian Brunette is all about sharing these health and wellness tips and tricks, so I figured what the hell, I might as well.
Alright, so let’s just dive in. Basically, as I mentioned, there’s so much more to gut health than getting things out of your system, even though digestion is indeed a big part of it.
It’s in fact a super important part of your overall health, because it’s responsible for your immune system. So it’s actually your gut that keeps you healthy.
If you thought growing up that your immune system was in your nose and throat because you were told that’s where the “soldiers” were fighting and that’s why it hurts, well, sorry to shatter your whole belief system, but that’s actually wrong. And you need to start paying more attention to your gut health, immediately, because that’s where more than half of your immune system is located (the rest being in the lymphatic system).
In short, not only is your gut health responsible for keeping your immune system healthy and therefore protecting you from common viruses like, colds, flus and other viral infections, it’s also responsible for keeping you from a plethora of other things like bloating, constipation and stomach aches (all related to digestion), but also skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis and the dreaded acne, headaches, insomnia, fatigue and exhaustion, to only name a few. Shocking, no?
The good news is, it’s actually quite easy to keep your gut healthy, and it’s also fun as hell, because the way to do it is, well… Eating.
That's because the factor that determines if your gut is healthy or not is your gut flora, also called micro biome. In plain english, it’s the good bacteria that lives in your gut. Like every living organism, that bacteria needs to eat and the best way to feed it is with prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Most people have heard of probiotics, that are basically fermented foods containing good bacterias. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are foods that are rich in fermentable fiber, which feeds those good bacterias.
Here are 2 lists of foods I love to eat to get a good dose of both prebiotics and probiotics:
As you can see, a lot of these are delicious things we would eat anyways. I think it’s just important to be mindful so we can think of ways to try and include them all more in our day-to-day meals. I’ll do a post soon on the ways I like to include them in my eating habits, with recipes for each and every one of them.
I also wanted to share 3 more easy tips on how to keep your gut healthy.
First, stay away from antibiotics as much as possible. Obviously, certain things cannot be cured without antibiotics, but the healthier you are, the less likely you are to need them, so it’s kind of a full-circle thing.
As much as probiotics give you good bacteria, antibiotics actually kill them. They for sure kill the bad bacteria causing the illness they were prescribed for, but not without causing collateral damage.
Avoid Processed Foods
The second tip would be to also stay away from heavily processed foods. They contain preservatives and all sorts of other things that are really bad for your gut and immune system. I’m thinking Cheetos and TV dinners here.
While I understand not everyone can be a cook, I think it’s super important to be able to make a few things, because that’s how you get to eat fresh, healthy ingredients without subsisting on raw kale and cucumber sticks.
I have a post coming on tips for beginners who want to start cooking, so check that out (on March 2) if it’s your case.
Don't Forget to Drink (Water)
Finally, the last tip would be to stay hydrated. Not with juice and sugary drinks, but with water. Water is the only thing that 100% hydrates you and doesn’t contain anything bad for you.
Any doctor will also tell you that drinking around 2 litres of water a day will keep you from being sick. That’s because when you’re dehydrated, your gut flora doesn't flourish.
Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed this post, and more importantly, I hope it helps you understand how important gut health is, and hopefully it’ll help a few of you to make healthier choices.
Before I actually did all the research, I had no idea how vital gut health was, and I thought it was all about visiting the bathroom regularly. I was shocked to learn about everything it influences around our bodies and I’m definitely on a better path to keeping myself disease-free.
Hit me up if you want to know more about how I include a shitton of gut-friendly foods in my meals and if you have any other tips and tricks to share. You can always reach me in the comment section below, or on Instagram, where I basically live, @thehungarianbrunette.
Love, Jenny xx
Pictures taken by Jaclyn Moy Photographer & Visual Artist