Listening to your body is important in all aspects, whether it’s skipping your scheduled workout because your body needs extra rest or going to bed earlier because of your hectic schedule. But paying closer attention to your very own digestive system, specifically your gut microbiome, can be beneficial. Your gut microbiome can help you understand why you might feel a little more bloated on some days than others.
Fueling your gut with fiber
While I’m sure we’ve all heard the magic behind eating fiber-filled foods when you need to “go,” there’s a good reason behind it. Not only does fiber work to relieve constipation, but it also plays a key role in aiding digestion. Fiber works to feed the millions of tiny gut micro bacteria in our intestines, fueling them so that they have an easier time breaking down the food we eat throughout the day. Depending on your meals, the time of day or even the season, your gut might have a tougher time digesting the wide array of foods you put into your body. From my experience, incorporating high-fiber foods, such as apples, flaxseeds, leafy greens and beans into my everyday meals has aided me in smooth digestion.
Probiotics and prebiotics
You’ve probably come across kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt and even the pickled ginger included in your sushi order. These prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods can help ease the work on your gut microbiome. While probiotics and prebiotics sound nearly identical, these biotics have different jobs once they enter your digestive tract. Probiotics contain healthy microorganisms that support the growth of good bacteria in your digestive system and are typically found in fermented foods. Working in conjunction are prebiotics, which act to feed the probiotics like fertilizer to the good bacteria living in our stomachs. Drinking kombucha or eating yogurt bowls throughout my week has tremendously helped soothe my stomach issues and alleviated the uncomfortable bloating I commonly encounter.
Effects on your brain
Depending on what your meals consist of it might impact your mood throughout the day. The gut is responsible for the release of digestive enzymes and is directly in communication with our brain through the vagus nerve. This nerve is what controls unconscious bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate and digestion. It’s also tied to the release of neurochemicals that the brain can use to help regulate your mood and learning. Helping digestion through the release of gastric juices and gut motility, the vagus nerve is a key player in the gut-brain axis. Implementing more fiber-rich foods in my diet, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, has allowed me to soothe my stomach and ease my stress.
Eating a warm bowl of my favorite mac and cheese can taste amazing in the moment, but this delicious meal builds up the most uncomfortable bloating in my stomach and brain fog. However, after incorporating fibrous foods and biotics into my day-to-day diet, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my overall digestion gut health, and perhaps it could for you, too.