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The Unsung Hero of Gut Health

The spotlight on gut health in recent years is completely valid & important as many struggle with digestion, bloating, food sensitivities, & more. Gut health also has been highlighted (& rightfully so) because of it's incredible impact on immune function, mental health, sleep quality & preventing health conditions likes heart disease & autoimmune disorders. So often, I see supplements or powders in some form or another prescribed first to address gut health & I'm here to share that improving our gut health can be as simple as including consistent exercise in our routine.

YES - the unsung hero of a healthy microbiome is MOVEMENT! As Cleveland Clinic Gastroenterologist Christina Lee, MD explains, "Exercise is one of the most powerful ways you can boost your gut microbiome. It's probably the best 'medicine' we have for your gut". Are you shocked this isn't the FIRST thing we think of when we think of improving our gut health??? But how is exercise & gut health connected?

  • Improves gut motility & creates balance of flora

  • Boosts circulation & improves blood flow

  • Tones your digestive muscles (super important for optimal digestion)

  • Boosts metabolism & keeps things moving

  • Improves sleep quality (which poor sleep has been linked to disruption in flora)

Regular, consistent exercise, ideally 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week (as recommended by Dr. Lee) where your heartrate is elevated faster than normal, you can talk but not sing, & you're sweating -- like Namastay Sweaty Club's weekly fitness program positively influences the gut microbiome by promoting greater diversity and abundance of beneficial bacteria. Exercise has also been shown to reduce inflammation and improve gut barrier function, which can help prevent leaky gut syndrome and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal issues. Additionally, exercise stimulates the production of short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the gut lining and support overall gut health.

I know it can be so tempting to try a "quick fix viral powder" but I encourage you to practice foundational, lifestyle habits to support your overall gut health like creating consistency with workouts as a way to improve your gut microbiome (& then see the domino effect an improved microbiome has on your overall wellness.)

To further the foundational lifestyle aspect of supporting your gut health, there are a lot of real, whole foods that can support a healthy microbiome more that popping a probiotic pill!

  • Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, aged cheese, kimchi, miso & kombucha contain natural & bioavailable probiotics

  • Fiber-Rich foods: Fiber acts as a prebiotic, fueling the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Include plenty of skin on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds in your diet.

  • Polyphenol-Rich Foods: High antioxidant foods include dark berries, grapes, apples, cherries, green tea, dark chocolate, and colorful vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, peppers, carrots, & broccoli.

  • Healthy Fats: Certain fats, such as those found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, can support gut health by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

  • Protein Sources: Incorporate lean protein sources like poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, tofu, and tempeh - these foods provide essential amino acids necessary for maintaining gut health.

  • Whole Grains: Whole grains (versus refined) like oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, and whole wheat contain fiber and other nutrients that promote gut health.

Incorporating these real, whole foods into your nutrition can also help support a diverse and thriving gut microbiome. Combined with regular, consistent exercise - you are well on your way to improving your overall health & wellness!


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