Michigan Association of Health Plans

Eat healthy for your gut!

This article was posted on The Molina Healthcare Blog. Read more here.

What does your gut do?

Your gut is responsible for many vital bodily functions like:

  • Digestion: Breaks down the food you eat into smaller pieces, so your body can use the nutrients.
  • Absorption: After digestion, your gut takes all the important nutrients from the food and carries them into your blood so your body can use them to stay healthy and strong.
  • Immune support: Helps your immune system by protecting your body from harmful substances and bad bacteria.
  • Communication: Communicates with your brain through the gut-brain connection, influencing your mood and how you feel.
  • Waste removal: Gets rid of what your body doesn’t need by forming waste and moving it out of your body as stool.

A gut that is out of balance, with more bad bacteria than good bacteria, can be harmful to your body. It can lead to digestive issues like bloating, gas and constipation. It can weaken your immune system. It can also result in chronic gut inflammation. An unhealthy gut can also affect your mood and mental health.

To avoid any health issues, boost your gut health by eating right!

1. Eat vegetables. Aim for green leafy veggies. Leafy greens are a great source of fiber. They support the growth of good bacteria in your gut. Examples of vegetables that feed your microbes are:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Artichokes

2.Stay away from processed foods and added sugars. Processed foods are high in additives, preservatives and unhealthy fats that can harm your gut microbiome. Added sugars are syrups and sugars that are added to food during preparation. These are not natural sugars. Eating too much sugar can cause heart disease and obesity. It is best to swap added sugar items for fruits and vegetables.

3. Include probiotics into your meals. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are good for your health and digestive system. They can be found in certain foods like:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir (fermented milk similar to yogurt)
  • Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • Kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage dish)
  • Miso (fermented soybean-paste)
  • Probiotic supplements (available in capsules, tablets and powders)

If you are thinking about adding a probiotic supplement into your diet, make sure to talk to your doctor. They can help you choose a probiotic that is right for you.

4. Include prebiotics into your diet. Prebiotics help feed your gut. You can find prebiotics in many fruits and vegetables. Beans and whole grains are also good prebiotics. Other options include:

  • Garlic
  • Bananas
  • Seaweed
  • Soybeans
  • Oatmeal

5. Cut back on red meat. Diets high in red meat can increase your risk of digestive issues, including colorectal cancer. Eating too much red meat can disrupt the balance of good gut bacteria and can result in an imbalance.

6. Stick to a sleeping schedule. For a healthy gut, make sure you get enough sleep. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep.

Life can get busy, but it’s also important you find time to eat well. Keep your gut healthy!

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