3 Ways To Be Kind To Your Gut

by Ashley Martinez, MFN, RDN, LD, NASM-CPT

Last Updated: February 17, 2021

So, what exactly is “gut health”? We hear the term often these days, and like any health-related definition, it means different things to different people. So, what do you need to know? The term “gut” generally refers to our gastrointestinal tract, which starts in our mouths and traces all the way through our esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This system’s function is to intake and break down foods, absorb the nutrients they provide and excrete waste. Like any system, body or otherwise, several inputs are needed to keep things running smoothly. Let’s discuss a few key ingredients that top the charts regarding gut health.
  1. Fit in the fiber.
    Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that doesn’t break down during digestion and helps to “keep things moving” through our digestive tract. Believe it or not, 95% of Americans don’t meet the daily requirement for fiber. Setting a goal to include high fiber foods with each meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts, helps get closer to your daily fiber goal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest consuming 25g of fiber for women and 38g of fiber for men per day. Where a gap still exists, fiber dense foods can help you cross the finish line. The next time you shop, look for fiber on the nutrition facts label and try to shoot for at least 3g per serving. Chickpea pasta is a great product to swap out for regular pasta as it has 10g of fiber per serving. You can even make pasta salad with these chickpea noodles for a high protein boost too.
  2. Pay attention to probiotics.
    Did you know that we have more live bacteria in our body than body cells? Though you may think that bacteria are bad, there are several strains of good bacteria essential for many vital body functions, including a healthy digestive tract. We call these probiotics. Common issues such as a limited diet, changes in routine, travel, and stress may disrupt your natural balance of good bacteria, and foods rich in probiotics can help maintain that digestive balance. You can also find live, healthy bacteria in several foods, including yogurts, probiotic drinks like kombucha, and many other foods are now fortified with probiotics. Making sure you have enough prebiotics (fiber) in your diet will ensure the probiotics are fueled and doing their job as well. Common prebiotic and probiotic pairs are:
    • Bananas and yogurt
    • Asparagus and tempeh
    • Raspberries and kombucha
  3. Drink enough water.
    Consuming enough fluids is imperative to ensure fiber is flowing through the digestive tract properly. Often, we may consume enough fiber, but because we are not drinking enough water, we may feel constipated or bloated. To find out how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily, take your body weight and divide it by two. A few ways to consume more water could be reaching for more sparkling or seltzer water, making it a goal to drink a glass of water upon waking or having a water bottle close to your desk to have it in sight, therefore drinking it more often.

Gut health is a very complex topic and is still on the rise. If you are interested in learning more about your personal needs and how to support your gut health, schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians to learn more.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Ashley Martinez, MFN, RDN, LD, NASM-CPT

Ashley Martinez, MFN, RDN, LD, NASM-CPT

Eating is all about the experience, and Ashley believes no food should be off limits. As a non-diet, culinary-focused dietitian, Ashley helps others practice the art of intuitive eating, leading to a successful, guilt-free relationship with food. As a personal trainer, incorporating fitness into her routine is also an important part of Ashley’s balanced approach to wellness. She’s got you covered with expert info on everything from blueberries to burpees.