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6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

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When it comes to wellness topics, gut health often comes to mind — and it should. We’re learning that a healthy gut is an indicator overall well-being, and research has already shown that it can affect digestive, heart and brain health. Heck, what goes on in our gut community may even impact our weight and workout performances. A surprising amount of our immune system function can also be tied to gut health, also known as our microbiomes.

The human gut microbiota is a complex ecosystem that includes trillions of microorganisms on and in our intestines. And while you’ve probably heard a lot about probiotics when it comes to the microbiome, you might be less familiar with prebiotics and postbiotics — two more keys to achieving optimal gut health.

Here’s what you need to know about the “biotics” family and how to make them work harder for your best interests.

Probiotics

These are living microorganisms (mainly bacteria and yeasts) found in certain foods and beverages that can take up residence in your digestive tract. It may sound creepy when you think of it that way, but as you’ve probably learned in a yogurt commercial or two, probiotics have various health benefits. They’re known for improving nutrient absorption and immune functioning, and one recent study found evidence that a greater microbiome diversity was associated with higher levels of active vitamin D — a nutrient many people are deficient in.

In general, probiotics including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium help maintain a healthy population of microbiota (or flora) living in the gut, positively affecting digestion and overall well-being. And for the most part, probiotics are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kombucha. It’s thought that regularly consuming probiotics helps to replenish the beneficial microorganisms in your gut and help counterbalance any less desirable bacteria residing there.

Prebiotics

Don’t let the name…

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