Tips to improve gut health


Bloating. Heartburn. Weight gain. Frequent visits to the restroom. It’s no surprise: bad gut health can have a big impact on your daily life. But what if there were quick and easy ways to improve your digestive system so you could feel your best every day?

In Gut Health Hacks, you’ll find 200 practical tips and tricks to support good bacteria and achieve a balanced gut microbiome. From improved mental health to weight loss to resolved digestion issues, balanced gut health can make all the difference. Here are a few examples:

IRON OUT YOUR IRON

Most of the healthy bacteria in your gut require iron to grow and multiply. If you don’t have enough iron, it can lead to bacterial imbalances and gut dysbiosis. Iron also helps your gut produce short-chain fatty acids, which further fuel your good bacteria and act as a source of energy for you.

Interestingly, a healthy gut is also necessary to properly absorb iron. If your gut is inflamed and teeming with bad bacteria, you can’t properly absorb iron. And if you can’t properly absorb iron, it’s hard to get your gut back in balance. The good news is that incorporating several different gut health hacks into your life can help reduce inflammation and put your gut on track to better iron absorption.

But since iron can accumulate in your body and lead to toxicity, you don’t want to supplement with iron unless you know for sure that you’re deficient. To find out, ask your doctor for a serum iron test, a transferrin test, and a ferritin test. These tests can tell you your current iron levels and give you clues as to whether or not your body has a problem storing iron.

Iron test kits available online or through pharmacies allow you to test your own levels with a kit that comes right to your home.

MANAGE YOUR MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body. But over the past few years, health experts have noticed an alarming trend: More than 60 percent of Americans don’t get enough magnesium daily, and as a result, magnesium deficiency is quickly becoming a public health crisis. One of the best ways to determine whether you’re at risk of magnesium deficiency (or if you have one already) is to assess your risk factors.

Major risk factors are:

  • High soda intake
  • Consumption of lots of processed foods
  • Use (or prior use) of diuretics and/or antacids
  • Diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome

Minor risk factors are:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Use or prior use of oral contraceptives and/or antibiotics
  • BMI (body mass index) greater than 30
  • Osteoporosis

If you do (or have done) a couple of these things, it’s likely you need some more magnesium in your life. If you’ve experienced leg cramps, trouble sleeping, fibromyalgia (widespread pain), and chronic fatigue, those are also telltale signs of a magnesium deficiency.

But what does this have to do with gut health? Magnesium ensures your muscles are working correctly, and that includes the muscles in your digestive tract. If they’re not working correctly, you can get constipated quickly. Magnesium also helps you sleep and plays a part in how your body handles stress—two things that are vital for gut health.

SCRUTINIZE YOUR STRESS LEVELS

Stress and your gut go together like peanut butter and jelly. Okay, maybe that isn’t the best simile, but the point is that your stress levels and your gut health are completely tied together. If you’re stressed out, your gut is stressed out. And if your gut is stressed out, it can actually affect the way that your body balances its stress hormones.

You probably don’t need a test to tell you if you’re stressed or not, but a test can tell you if your stress is affecting your body on a physiological level. Everyone reacts and responds to stress differently, so if you’re experiencing high levels of stress but managing it well, your hormones may be normal. On the flip side, if stress has completely overwhelmed you, it’s likely that your hormones are out of whack and your stress is a major contributor to any gut problems.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to check this at home. The Sleep and Stress Test from Everlywell measures cortisol, cortisone, and melatonin through easy-to-collect urine samples. The results will tell you if your stress hormones are high and/or your sleep hormones are low or if they follow an abnormal pattern. Based on these results, you’ll know if you need to prioritize stress relief and hormone balancing as part of your gut health protocol.

Excerpted from Gut Health Hacks by Lindsay Boyers. Copyright © 2021 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

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