The Gut and Digestive Health Connection

We all know digestive health is important—mostly because we know how terrible we feel when our digestion’s out of whack. 

For example, we know eating a delicious burrito full of processed nacho cheese and other tasty (if questionable) ingredients will bring us joy. We also know it’ll make our stomachs feel vile for hours (or days) afterward. 

On the other hand, we know that if we eat a salad or drink a green smoothie, we’ll feel pretty good afterward. Our digestion will be more regular, and we won’t experience bloating or a stomachache. 

Although a healthy diet is the key to gut health, there’s more to it than that. Let’s dive into just how widespread and heavy-hitting our gut health can be—and look at some concrete actions we can take to optimize our digestion by investing in gut health. 

Did You Know? Fun-Facts, Digestion Edition:

  • While your digestive health tends to revolve around your gut—or in your intestine, stomach, and general abdomen area—your digestive system is a much larger thing. In fact, your digestive system extends from your mouth and salivary glands all the way down to your rectum. 
  • You may be familiar with your central nervous system (you know, the one that’s powered by your brain and oversees your every twitch and turn). Surprise! Your body actually has a second nervous system, located in your digestive tract. This, the “brain” in your gut, controls everything from digestion to the production of the hormones that influence your brain. 
  • Eating more fiber may be on your to-do list for many reasons, but do you know precisely why the fiber in whole grains and veggies is so vital? Basically, it keeps your stool soft and moving through your gut—and it acts as a delicious treat for the gut bacteria in your system. This two-for-one deal keeps you regular and invests in your gut microbiome, making fiber one of the best things you can eat for digestive and gut health. (More on that in a minute!)

Getting Your Gut To Do Its Thing Shouldn’t Be So Hard

But we get it: Whether you’re dealing with constipation, diarrhea, constant stomachaches, or other sticky gut situations, it can feel like there’s no end in sight. 

After all, digestion is a routine thing that should just happen, right? Digesting and eliminating food is a basic part of being human—or animal. It can feel frustrating when your body seemingly decides it’s not up to the task.

As it turns out, “just” digesting and eliminating your food—along with extracting the maximum amount of nutrients possible and creating sustainable energy for your body—is highly specialized work. It’s less a simple three-note jingle, and more of a sophisticated, complex symphony.

If one thing goes wrong, the rest of your digestive system may suffer. 

For example, if you’re suffering from: 

  • A chronically upset stomach (including frequent bloating, gas, and other types of discomfort)
  • Constant, inexplicable fatigue
  • Insomnia or other sleep issue
  • Food intolerances or the inability to digest certain foods comfortably
  • Extreme, hard-to-reckon-with food cravings (particularly if you’re craving sugar)
  • Issues keeping your weight within a healthy window
  • Skin irritations that don’t resolve themselves with a simple skincare regimen
  • Frequent migraines
  • Heartburn
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

You might be suffering from an imbalance in your gut microbiome and poor digestive health. 

If you’re interested in reversing a finicky digestive health issue, one of the most powerful places to start is your diet. As you might imagine, putting your gut back into a healthy balance starts with food. We’ll take a look at some healthy changes you can make in the next section.

Some lifestyle changes, such as stressing less and reducing antibiotic use whenever possible, can also jumpstart your journey toward better digestion.

(In other words, if you were looking for permission to take a day off and go for a hike, or even just squeeze in a nap, this is it.)  

Let’s Deal With Your Digestive Health, One Meal At A Time

Optimizing your gut health can seem like it requires constant vigilance and a cornucopia of weird foods. And while it’s true that making the best possible choices for your digestion can be difficult, it’s also more straightforward than you might think. Take it one meal and one snack at a time, build some good habits, and you’ll be feeling better before you know it. 

Here are the types of things you’ll want to put on your plate. 

  • High-fiber foods: These are your whole grains, your veggies, your fruits, and your beans. You might have already pictured these foods when you first started to think about a gut-friendly diet, but you might not know why. When you eat soluble fiber, it absorbs water and creates a gel in your intestine. Not only does this gel lubricate the insides of your gut so digestion moves more smoothly, your gut bacteria love munching on this easy-to-eat snack. As a result, you’re more regular—and you have more good bacteria. TL;DR: More fiber is a win-win for you and your microbiome!
  • Probiotic foods: These are your fermented goodies. Think kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. These tangy-tasting treats are full of living microorganisms that are ready to partner with your gut microbiome to boost the beneficial bacteria in your body. If you’re not a fan of fermented foods, stick with yogurt. A high-quality probiotic will also do the trick. 
  • Prebiotic foods: Prebiotics provide nutrients specifically for your gut microbiota. (Think about it: If your general and digestive health depends on a happy population of gut bacteria, they’re going to need to have their food, too, right?) While fiber goes a long way toward meeting this goal with that gel-like substance we talked about a minute ago, prebiotic foods (such as asparagus, bananas, and artichokes) contain specific compounds guaranteed to thrill your gut bacteria. Add these foods to your rotation! 
  • Anti-inflammatory foods: When your body’s having a bad day or experiencing adverse symptoms, it’s often because of systemic inflammation. Inflammation happens when your body realizes something’s wrong—such as an imbalance in your gut microbiota—and sends in the troops to see what’s up. (The “troops” in this situation are white blood cells and other immune system compounds.) In the effort to fix the problem, your body’s inflammatory response could cause more frustrating symptoms. This process might even contribute to a range of digestive issues, including IBS. Eating specific anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, flax seeds, fruits, veggies, and walnuts can help your body’s inflammatory response calm down. 

Need Help Along The Way? Grab An Effective Probiotic.

Good things come to those who wait—but we understand that eating strictly gut-friendly foods, lowering your stress, and investing in a generous sleep schedule can take a lot of self-control. Even if you’ve got the guts to invest in your gut, you might need a little boost at the beginning so you can feel better faster. 

A high-quality probiotic is a good place to start. Filled with the good bacteria your gut needs to thrive, Jetson probiotics can help you and your digestive system move and groove your way to better health. 

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