You know that “gut feeling” you get when something just doesn’t feel right, or the stomach flutters you get when you’re overwhelmed? It’s more than just a feeling. Your gut and your brain are closely connected, constantly sharing information and when one is impacted, so is the other. Turns out, stress and anxiety can play a huge part in your gut health, triggering symptoms ranging from uncomfortable aches and pains to more serious digestive issues like an overgrowth of bad bacteria and inflammation. Since it’s Stress Awareness Month and there’s no shortage of things to worry about, we thought we’d share suggestions for better gut health—which, bonus, often means better overall health, too.
Discover feel-good foods
Your diet may be the easiest way to make gut health more of a priority in your daily routine. Try adding fermented foods like veggies, pickles, kombucha or miso a few times a week and see how your body reacts. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics, which may help with digestion. Sugar (especially artificial sweetener) is another culprit when it comes to gut troubles. If you’re wanting to get serious about your gut health, starting small by taking a look at your sugar intake couldn’t hurt. Especially since sugar’s been proven to not only feed bad bacteria, but may put a damper on the growth of good bacteria your gut relies on.
Find what calms you and do that
There’s no harm in prioritizing what makes you feel calm and sane and, if you’re looking to improve your gut health, many of those same activities will check that box, too. If there’s something you know brings you peace and reduces stress—say, exercise or reading—carve out time and protect it as much as you can. Or, add to it by trying out new things to incorporate, like meditation, a destressing supplement or listening to a podcast that makes you laugh.
Give pre and probiotics a try
The reason you hear all the hubbub about pre and probiotics is because they work. The brief gist is this: though they sound similar, they play different roles and your body needs both the pre and pro part of the “biotics” which help balance your gut health and support digestion. Since your gut connects to nearly every aspect of your health, try incorporating daily supplements not just for a more balanced gut, but a healthier immune system, heart and skin.
Lastly, trust your gut
Really. Taking steps to pay attention to and better your gut health doesn’t have to be overwhelming—it can be as simple as taking stock of your body’s natural cravings, rhythms and reactions.