According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, digestive diseases are the driving factor for more than 37 million visits to a doctor’s office each year. Although some conditions require a visit to the doctor, there are steps you can take at home to improve your gut health.
Here are four ways to improve how your gut feels and functions:
- Treat food as medicine and limit some foods –Food can either be helpful or harmful. Choose fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables over packaged and processed foods. Limit foods like refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, fried food, red meat, alcohol and refined grains, like white flour. In particular, avoid factory-farmed meat – as it can harbor drug-resistant bacteria from animal antibiotic use.
- Get enough prebiotics – Prebiotics serve as food and fuel for probiotics, the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. Prebiotics can be found in fibrous plants, including:
- Dark, leafy greens such as spinach
- Focus on probiotics – Probiotics are good bacteria that are critical to protecting and repairing the gut. They compete with bad gut bacteria and yeast, modulate intestinal function and are essential to improving immune function. They also help us break down food and can build nutrients. They can be found in fermented foods including:
- Keep your blood sugar steady – Eating regularly and focusing on foods that release energy slowly keeps your blood sugar steady. When blood sugar drops, you might feel tired, irritable or depressed.
When you eat and how often you eat is individual to your medical history. If you can track what you are eating and how you feel after you eat, you’ll begin to recognize which foods give you lasting energy and keep you feeling good all day and which do not.
If you’re interested in learning more about improving your gut health, NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Integrative Medicine Program can help. Visit us online to learn about what we have to offer or call 847-657-3540.