Gut health isn’t just a new wellness buzzword – it describes the delicate balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Certain lifestyle factors can influence the gut and the systems that are found within it.


In this article – registered dietitian Kara Kash explains how gut health can affect our digestion and practical ways to improve it. 


This infographic was created by Factor, a healthy weekly meal delivery service.


Food plays a large role in gut health. The less nutritional choices are often causes of heartburn, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.


Some of the worst grub and beverages to consume if you want to prioritize gastrointestinal health include artificial sweeteners, red meat, processed meals, and alcohol. Polyphenols are a plant chemical that benefit gut microbes and can be found in berries, apples, artichokes, red onions, tea, red wine, and other fruits and vegetables.


Getting enough sleep is crucial for numerous reasons and gut health is no exception. In this regard, getting seven to eight hours of undisturbed rest can prevent many symptoms. These include nausea, bloating, constipation, and other digestive issues that may affect someone with a hectic sleep schedule.


While staying active can deter unwanted fat, build muscle, and improve flexibility and balance, it may also keep your stress levels low. The main stress hormone, cortisol, is managed in the gut, emphasizing the importance of keeping the gastrointestinal tract happy and healthy.


If you’re sick or recovering from an illness, you might take antibiotics to eradicate the germs in the gut. While the number of bad germs and bacteria may be targeted and reduced, the good ones might be too. Conditions such as the common cold or sore throat don’t typically respond to antibiotics, so their overuse should be avoided.


Because the gut is a main component of food digestion, it’s important to be mindful of what is consumed. The stomach should not be treated as a dumping ground for excess grub. Eat until you’re full and make sure your diet contains large portions of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.


The gut is responsible for more than 70% of the immune system, food digestion, cortisol levels, and more. For additional information on how to identify gastrointestinal problems and improve your overall health, see the accompanying resource.


Author Bio

Kara Kash, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian at Factor — a premium weekly meal delivery service that fuses world-class culinary dishes with the latest in nutrition science to produce fully prepared meals that are as delicious as they are nutritious.