Why is it Important to Eat Healthy for a Healthy Gut?
We are often instructed by medical professionals and others that we are supposed to eat healthily. But why exactly do they put so much stress on what we eat as opposed to the many other things that promote good health?
The main reason is that eating healthily provides our bodies with the nutrients needed to sustain the many processes that keep us alive. One of the biggest promoters of disease is poor diet. So let’s talk about the different ways that eating healthy can improve our quality of life and long-term health.
1. Gut Health
The importance of a good diet on our gut health is pretty obvious. What we eat would absolutely affect the health of our stomachs. While the digestion process is huge when it comes to our food choices, it isn’t the only important factor.
What we eat affects the delicate balance within our gut microbiomes. There is a world of bacteria living in our gut and what we eat can feed the good or bad bacteria.
Diets high in processed foods and sugar will feed the bad.
Diets high in nutrients will feed our good bacteria.
No matter what we eat, the bacteria in our guts will produce byproducts that can either help or harm our bodies. Good foods keep our intestinal tracts from becoming permeable. The bad foods promote inflammation and a leaky gut which allows the bacteria to freely move throughout our bodies which promotes disease.
Our gut health has a huge impact on our immunity, heart health, mood, brain, and how well we fight off diseases.
2. Immune Health
Our immune systems are highly affected by the health of our guts. Nearly 70% of our immune system actually resides in our guts. When we eat good healthy foods that are full of prebiotics and fiber, they’re able to feed the good bacteria in our guts. When these bacteria are fed, they’re able to promote the growth of more healthy strains creating more microbial diversity.
The byproducts of the healthy foods being fermented not only increase microbial diversity but also keep the intestinal barrier tight preventing translocation. This is important to our immune system because it is able to focus on the different bacteria it comes into contact with outside of our bodies rather than raging war with the bacteria within.
The nutrients and byproducts from our foods can help to provide all of our immune cells with what they need to fight off any external invaders and keep us healthy and strong.
3. Heart Health
Our hearts require many nutrients to keep pumping strong. The heart helps to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout our bodies through our blood. That’s why our heart rate increases when we are exercising, to get more blood to our muscles so it can deliver more oxygen and the right nutrients to keep our bodies moving.
When we eat diets high in unhealthy fat and sugar it negatively affects the blood vessels that carry the blood. This restricts blood flow to and from the heart and leads to cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
Again our gut comes into play because those byproducts released from our gut microbes can either help or harm our cardiovascular system depending on what ones have been activated.
4. Brain Health and Mood
Our brains tell the rest of our bodies what to do. What you may not know is that our gut is referred to as our ‘second brain’. This is because of how much influence our guts have on the functionality of our brains. Our brain performs at its best when we feed it highly nutritious foods.
Focus, concentration, and memory are all affected by our food choices. So if you’re looking to improve any of these, the best place to start is your diet. Foods high in polyphenols like nuts, fruits, and vegetables are all great to improve your brain health.
Our diet also has a large impact on our mood management. Around 90% of our serotonin (a happy chemical) is created in our guts. Eating healthy foods can promote the balance of serotonin and other mood-enhancing chemicals in our brains.
5. Weight Management
This is one of the more obvious reasons that what you eat matters. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, eating healthily is the key to get there. Instead of focusing on cutting carbs or calories, try focusing on what exactly is on your plate.
When you focus on getting good, healthy foods into your body, you have less room for unhealthy choices. Eating healthy foods can help you to avoid craving unhealthy foods while helping you shed some pounds.
Another way to sort of reset your gut microbiome and focus on weight management is by incorporating intermittent fasting into your routine. You’ll see a lot of differences made with your health when following a fasting protocol that you and your doctor create for you.
6. Better Sleep
Believe it or not, the foods you eat can affect your ability (or inability) to get good sleep. This goes outside of just sugar and caffeine. The time of day and the types of foods you eat all affect your circadian rhythm.
Focusing on eating the right foods can help you to have a more restful sleep, providing you with more energy and motivation. This has been shown through many studies and one study showed that even if weight loss isn’t achieved by the dietary changes, you can still benefit from better sleep by initiating a healthier diet.
How to Eat Healthier
So if you’re looking to achieve all of these benefits here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.
- Eat the rainbow — get as many different types of fruits and veggies as you can into your diet
- Make sure each meal provides you with something from every food group on the food pyramid
- Use supplements like Atrantil to help support good gut health so the rest becomes easier
- Add flavors to your food with spices and herbs instead of salt and sugary additives
- Cook more often for yourself and meal prep
- Model a healthy diet like the DASH, MIND, or Mediterranean diets
If you’re struggling to stay on track, ask your doctor for some recommendations to keep you healthy. Got a great trick to keep yourself going? Share it below in the comments to help others!