If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably already abandoned your New Year’s resolution. Don’t be so hasty! Focusing on your gut health can help you to achieve some of the most common resolutions, whether your goal is to improve your mental health, manage your finances, or lose weight. Here are some ideas to improve your gut health in the upcoming year.
Take Probiotics and Eat More Fermented Foods
At any given time, you have as many bacteria on/in your body as you do cells (30-50 trillion), and most of those bacteria are making a home in your gut. If you have an overabundance of bad bacteria, you could experience negative digestive side effects (gas, bloating, and abdominal pain), and scientists have linked gut bacteria to health issues such as depression, arthritis, obesity, and even cancer.
Focus on Whole Foods
We lead busy lives. Sometimes, it’s all you can manage to hit the drive-thru or grab something out of a vending machine. But processed foods, sugar, refined flours, and refined vegetable oils can cause digestive distress and throw the bacteria in your gut out of balance. Even if you don’t have much time, try to be mindful about eating whole foods over processed ones. Cutting out processed foods can help you feel better, save money, and lose weight!
Incorporate More Plant-Based Meals Into Your Diet
Carbohydrates are easier to digest than proteins and fats, and studies have shown that vegetarians are generally healthier and weigh less than meat-eaters. Meat isn’t inherently bad, but vegetarians tend to eat a wider variety of foods, including prebiotics and probiotics that make their gut microbiome more diverse. Try to incorporate one meat-free meal into your diet each week. This can also help your wallet because meat is generally more expensive than vegetables, and it can help slim your waistline!
You don’t have to spend hours on meal prep every week to start seeing results. You probably already have an idea of what foods you’re going to eat next week, so take a few minutes to write out a plan. The weekend before, pre-chop the produce and get the foods ready for the upcoming week. Cooking at home is a great way to save money and to stick to your diet.
Obviously exercise will help you to lose weight, and it releases endorphins to elevate your mood. It can even save you money on future health care costs. But did you know that it improves your gut health? Much like eating fermented foods, exercise improves the variety of bacteria in your GI tract.
If you have an unhappy gut, the board-certified gastroenterologists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas can get you on your way to a happier, healthier digestive system!