Tame the Bacteria Within
Bacteria may have a lot of control, but there are things you can do to make sure you have beneficial bacteria in your gut working for you, rather than against you.
Stock Up On Fiber
Of everything you can do for a healthier gut, “the microbiome is most sensitive to nutrition,” says DePaolo. If you’re consistently eating junk, you’ll produce more of the bacteria that can lead to weight gain or make you sick, he says.
The good bacteria you want to help feed and grow love snacking on high-fiber foods, like fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and whole grains, says DePaolo.
Exercise does a microbiome good. In one 2016 study, researchers compared the gut bacteria of sedentary mice to active mice and found that those that exercised had a healthier gut microbiota than those that didn’t, regardless of diet.
For better overall health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Relaxing practices like meditation and yoga can help calm you down, lower your stress hormone levels and increase feel-good hormone production, which can have a positive effect on your gut— and vice versa, says DePaolo.
“It’s very much a bidirectional sort of relationship,” he says. “If you’re doing things to help you release hormones and neurotransmitters that are going to make you feel better, that will make you feel better everywhere.”