Written by: Rebecca Block (2018), Peer Health Advocate

We’ve all heard the term “gut feeling”, and know that if we have one, it’s probably the best option to go for. While we often overlook these messages our bodies are telling us, we also often neglect our overall health. A “gut feeling” is more than just a feeling, your gut actually also play a vital role in your overall physical and mental health too!

Have you ever experienced bloating, heartburn, stomach issues, excessive acne, depression, or anxiety? Your gut most likely plays a big part in these issues. Our gut microbiome is the home of trillions of bacteria, called “gut flora”, both good and bad. Things such as chronic stress, lack of exercise, taking antibiotics and medications often, and eating refined, processed, and sugary foods can kill off good bacteria, cause inflammation and diminish your overall health. As Hippocrates once said, “all disease begins in the gut”. Although this isn’t the case for genetic diseases, it remains true for chronic metabolic diseases and this finding has been very beneficial.

Although these symptoms seem typical for a college campus, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end-all-be-all. There are many ways that you can help increase your beneficial “gut flora”, which can help alleviate these symptoms and improve your well-being.

Tips for a Healthy Gut

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Exercise!
  • Decrease your intake of processed foods that can increase inflammation, such as sugary cereals, packaged and sugary foods.
  • Increase your intake of fiber! Fibrous foods contain prebiotics that gut bacteria feed on, improving the overall health of gut bacteria already residing in your gut.Try whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa), beans, vegetables, and fruit.
  • Introduce fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods contain probiotics that are live bacteria that break down natural sugars into acids, and provide fiber that increase the amount of good bacteria in our guts. Check out plain yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, cheese, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Consume healthy fats such as natural nut butters, extra-virgin olive oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, fatty fish, and dark chocolate.