It won’t just be your stomach that thanks you.
Your gut is basically your body’s second brain.
That’s thanks to the living group of organisms housed there, called the microbiome.
And strangely (or not so strangely), that ecosystem seems to be linked with mental performance and wellness as a whole — a mysterious gut-brain connection that scientists are still trying to understand.
Your microbiome thrives when it’s fed a wide variety of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables rich in different vitamins and minerals can help protect the gut lining and reduce inflammation.
The Mediterranean diet, which centers on vegetables, fish, legumes, and nuts, has also been linked to a lower risk of gut-related conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Eating fermented dairy products, like yogurt, kefir, and sour cream, is shown to decrease harmful inflammation in the gut.
Non-dairy products, like kimchi and sauerkraut, also host probiotics that can keep your microbiome in tip-top shape.
Highly processed foods can create pro-inflammatory bacteria in the gut — so your favorite junk snacks might be best in moderation.
It’s no secret that stress is bad for the body. But for your microbiome, stress can kick off a vicious cycle of dysregulation.
Antibiotics are overprescribed in the U.S. These kinds of drugs can have a negative effect on the microbiome.
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Of course, there will be times when we need the help of these medications to fight infection.
But one study from 2018 found that antibiotics inhibited the body’s ability to replenish certain types of microorganisms after an infection.
Less sleep = more stress. More stress = inflammation in the gut. But it’s not just you that needs to rest — your gut may also determine if you can get proper shut-eye.
One study found that gut health can influence the quality of your sleep.
So it’s not just a one-way street — if you keep your gut healthy, it will reward you in surprising ways.