For the most part, you might not think very much about digestion unless things aren’t going well.  After all, unless discomfort and other troubles set in, most people assume all is well.  However, by paying more attention to what’s going on behind the scenes, so to speak, you can improve your overall health and feel better than ever.

Cultural components.  Your digestive tract is a world unto itself.  According to Harvard Health, around 100 trillion bacteria live there, both good and bad sorts, and together they comprise your gut microbiota.  Science is just beginning to understand how all these bacterial elements function, but it is clear they contribute directly to your overall health.  When things are out of balance, you are not only more apt to suffer from poor digestion.  An unhealthy gut appears to be linked to numerous medical concerns such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.  When your gut health is compromised, your immune system doesn’t function as well, either.  You can’t absorb nutrients as well and can compromise your overall health.  The culture inside your gut is so important, some experts even refer to it as your “second brain.”

Lay a good foundation.  Some of the aspects of digestive health are clear, and included in that is a major bacterial component known to be vital for an overall well-functioning system.  First and foremost in the world of gut culture are prebiotics.  Prebiotics are a kind of non-digestible fiber which acts as fertilizer for other healthy bacteria, and they come from fruits and vegetables such as onions, bananas, and broccoli.  There is a particular prebiotic fiber found in milk, rice bran and bamboo shoots called Xylooligosaccharides, or XOS.  XOS can improve your digestive system’s health and help specifically with weight loss.  There are effective and convenient XOS prebiotic supplements available to help your digestive system get on track and stay there, which is a boon to those of us who sometimes grab meals on the run, or whose gut health might already be in question.

Building from there.  Probiotics are another important basic kind of bacteria for gut health.  Probiotics and prebiotics go hand-in-hand, and in fact, you need prebiotics in place for probiotics to flourish in your gut.  A diet rich in probiotics includes fermented foods with live bacteria, such as yogurt, kefir, miso, and pickles.

Extenuating circumstances.  You might be surprised to learn your sleep habits can influence your gut health.  Just a couple nights of insomnia takes a toll on your good bacteria, and can even decrease your sensitivity to insulin.  There appears to be a link between poor gut health and lost sleep as well, and along with those concerns your cognitive function seems to drop off when your digestive tract is unbalanced.  Improved sleep seems to improve gut function, helping good bacteria to thrive, and at the same time lowering your risk for depression, and improving your ability to think quickly.  Studies cited by Science Direct explain some experts feel there might even be a three-way link between reduced mental sharpness we often associate with age, inadequate sleep, and gut health.

Simple but effective.  Staying hydrated is a key to good gut health, and Healthline points out drinking sufficient amounts of water helps gut bacteria stay balanced and promotes the proper condition of the walls of your intestines.  Our bodies are primarily composed of water, and while there is not a hard and fast rule for how much you should consume, some research suggests whenever you’re thirsty you should listen to your body and imbibe.

It’s important to pay attention to your gut health since it appears to affect your overall condition.  Encourage a properly balanced digestive tract with well-chosen foods and supplements, sufficient sleep, and good hydration.  By naturally improving your digestion you can enjoy better general health.

By Alice Robertson

Image courtesy of Pixabay