How to Get Your Gut Health Back on Track

Everything from mood to weight to overall health and performance comes back to your intestinal tract. Here are a few things you may not know about the digestive tract and why protecting it with good bacteria, or gut flora, is so important:

  • It aids in the absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron
  • It protects the immune system
  • It contains a host of important B vitamins
  • It helps the body break down amino acids (proteins)
  • It boosts mental health

More: The Importance of an Athlete's Digestive System

Unfortunately, so many of us are lacking the balance between good and bad bacteria in the intestines, also known as dysbiosis. This condition sets the stage for autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and a host of others. Food sensitivities, constipation, infections, IBS and other gastrointestinal issues are also caused by dysbiosis. So what can we do to fix it?

  1. Eat high quality, unprocessed whole foods: Stock up on foods such as fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, lean meats and whole grains (if your body tolerates them).
  2. Ensure you're getting probiotics: Think of your gastrointestinal tract as its own immune system and nervous system. It needs to be ready for any toxic invader that's thinking about messing around with the gut. These friendly bacteria need to out-number the bad so there's less intestinal discomfort, nutritional deficiencies and even depression. Discuss the best variety of probiotics for you with your healthcare professional.
  3. Take digestive enzymes: If food is not being broken down properly, there is no assimilation of nutrients. Taking a digestive enzyme with our meals helps us to digest the proteins, carbs and fats in the food, and get the nutrients to the right places.
  4. Eat fermented foods: Foods such as kefir, kombucha, organic plain yogurt, miso and kimchi contain good bacteria, and can therefore aid the digestive tract.

More: Manage Your Gut Flora for Better Performance

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About the Author

Karen Sherwood

Karen Sherwood is a registered yoga teacher, certified nutrition consultant and holistic health expert. Owner of Nutritious Yogi, Karen has over 15 years experience specializing in whole-food nutrition programs, meal planning, supplementation, detoxification, yoga and lifestyle counseling. She contributes to several online publications and is the resident nutritionist at Sports Club/LA in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @nutritiousyogi and find her on Facebook.

Karen Sherwood is a registered yoga teacher, certified nutrition consultant and holistic health expert. Owner of Nutritious Yogi, Karen has over 15 years experience specializing in whole-food nutrition programs, meal planning, supplementation, detoxification, yoga and lifestyle counseling. She contributes to several online publications and is the resident nutritionist at Sports Club/LA in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @nutritiousyogi and find her on Facebook.

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