In the pursuit of a longer, healthier life, the intricate relationship between gut health and the aging process has become a focal point. Encourage a longer healthspan with these five secrets that foster a flourishing gut flora.
Your gut microbiome includes trillions of microorganisms living in the digestive tract (1). These “health bugs” play an important role in your overall health and wellbeing. Recently, the relationship between gut health and longevity has gained scientific interest. While the direct link between gut health and longevity is complex, gut bacteria play a role in various aspects of your healthy aging, including your immune system, nutrient absorption, metabolism, and inflammation.
There are 70 to 80 percent of your immune cells located in your gut (2). The balance of gut bacteria can influence your immune function and protect you against infections and diseases, having an overall impact on health and longevity.
Chronic inflammation in your body is associated with various age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative, or brain-related, disorders (3). The gut microbiome plays a role in regulating inflammation, and an imbalance in gut bacteria, can even contribute to chronic inflammation.
Not only do your gut bacteria help you absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, they can also produce some vitamins such as B vitamins, which help with our energy and metabolism, and vitamin K, needed for wound healing (4).
Gut bacteria also produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been associated with various health benefits such as maintaining the integrity of the gut lining, regulating immune responses, and decreasing inflammation (5).
Gut bacteria can also influence how we eat. They help produce and regulate appetite hormones such as ghrelin, which makes us hungry, and leptin, which signals that we’re full. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria, have been studied for their potential role in weight management. Although studies are not conclusive, some research suggests that certain probiotics may help regulate our body weight and fat mass, which are related to healthy aging (6).
A diverse microbiome, which grows more unique as we age, has been associated with increased longevity (7). You can support a variety of microbiome, and encourage the growth of the “good” bacteria in your gut by:
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can contribute to a healthy gut microbiota and support digestive function. Include probiotic-rich foods in your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods.
Make your own fermented food: Beet & Cabbage Sauerkraut
Dietary fiber fuels and supports the growth of your good bacteria. Prebiotics in particular are in fruits and vegetables such as asparagus, onion, garlic, and bananas. You can also easily up your fiber content by swapping refined grains, such as white bread or white pasta, for whole grain versions.
Regular physical activity is associated with greater microbial diversity in the gut. In fact, research has revealed more variations in gut microbiome among older adults who are lean and physically active in comparison to their less fit peers (8).
Learn more about how to get moving: Exercise.
Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health through the gut-brain axis, or the communication system between your stomach and brain. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or regular physical activity to help maintain a healthy balance in the gut.
Eating too much sugar can disrupt the balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut (9). Focus on a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods provide essential nutrients and are generally lower in added sugars.
Want to improve your gut health and support a longer, healthier life by limiting your sugar intake? Check out sugar detoxes with Lifesum!
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