How To Get Your Gut Health In Check
By Alexandra Wade - December 26, 2021

There has been an upsurge in health fads revolving around gut health, and they all have a simple premise: alter the environment of your digestive tract to make yourself healthier. The most popular of these is probiotics, which are supplements containing bacteria intended to alter the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria in your gut. There are also gut-healing diets like paleo which involve cutting out foods that damage the digestive tract, eliminating sugar and processed food (and often some healthy foods as well), and overloading on fiber to “wash” the bad stuff out of you. These systems all have scientific justification, but they pose a simple question: what is “gut health,” and how can it be defined?

Getty Images/Moment/Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman

The gut microbiome changes significantly throughout the day, while still maintaining a functional digestive system. When it comes to gut health supplements like probiotics and prebiotics, even the most profound results in mice cannot definitively be said to apply in humans until they are proven. For now, we can only rely on anecdotes and reasonable extrapolations.┬áThe gut microbes that live in someone who eats lots of plants tend to be more efficient at processing those plants into bioavailable forms of nutrients, which means they’ll grow and replicate faster. This change in diversity in the gut microbiome is important to health for a number of reasons.

Your gut microbiome is extremely important to your health, even though most people don’t think about their gut bacteria unless they’re suffering from an infection. Gut health means having healthy bacteria living in your intestines that help you digest food efficiently with minimal side effects. There are a lot of different factors that go into your gut microbiome, and many of them depend on personal choices and genetics. For example, a low-fat, plant-heavy diet can help ensure the gut microbiome is working on a nutrient-rich enough substrate that it can grow and replicate. Exercise can also promote the growth of bacteria that eat your sweat and dead skin cells, both of which contain a lot of the same sorts of nutrients as plants.