· By Stephen Stancak
What is Gut Health? 9 Ways to Improve Gut Health
Our founder, Najwa Khan, faced years of chronic pain and gut issues as a result of munching on processed foods that satisfied her taste buds but didn’t do much for the wellbeing of her gut microbiome. An expert in the field of public health, Najwa had access to specialists in the area of health and nutrition. These specialists offered Najwa a new perspective on eating, where foods could satisfy her cravings without wreaking havoc on her gut and overall quality of life.
Najwa discovered suitable swaps for savory snacks, like crunchy gluten-free crackers, and pantry staples like dairy-free coconut yogurt. Yet, she struggled to find an alternative soft-baked indulgent dessert that didn’t skimp on taste, texture, or flavor. Armed with a whisk and sweet tooth, she decided to bake up the impossible– a better-for-you, no-fuss brownie made from real, clean ingredients.
If you’re a dessert lover, you might be wondering why it’s worth trading your typical conventional brownie for dalci. Unlike processed soft-baked desserts, we’re the only snacking solution that is approved (and loved) by registered dieticians.
“dalci avoids many of the pro-inflammatory ingredients that can cause gut discomforts like refined grains, large amounts of saturated fats, and sugar alcohols that many commercial desserts are made of,” explains Shana Johnson, MPH, RD, and Chief Experience Officer at the digital modern care platform, SoulWell.
We’re also the preferred sweet treat for nutrition and wellness experts like Dr. Will Cole. “Unlike other brands, I don’t have to suffer through eating a “health bar” to satisfy my sweet tooth. Because let’s face it, most other health bars are not as healthy as they claim to be - nor as delicious,” says Dr. Will Cole when asked why dalci is his go-to snack for when sweet cravings strike.
In this post, we’ll discuss what gut health is and how the foods (and desserts) you choose to munch on could have a major impact on important areas of your life– think sleep quality, mood, and energy levels.
What Do We Mean by Gut Health?
In the community of mindful eaters, the phrase “gut health” appears to be tossed around regularly. While you might consider a balanced gut the desired goal, you might feel lost on what it means to have a happier gut.
“A healthy gut means you have a stronger immune system, a better mood, effective digestion that’s free of discomfort and healthy brain and heart,” explains Sabine Hazan, M.D.
The numerous health benefits that are tied to a better gut are only possible if your digestive system is working smoothly, with a healthy gut breaking down carbs, fats, and proteins into key nutrients for the body.
The foods and beverages that you choose to pile onto your plate or into your cup on the daily play a major role in the bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that make up your gut microbiome. Diversifying the species of bacteria in your gut is key to avoiding and reducing uncomfortable symptoms triggered by common digestive disorders like bloating, stomach cramping, and gas.
Now that we’re familiar with what gut health actually means, let’s “gut” excited about discussing health tips and tricks for diversifying your microbiome. You’re just one scroll away from uncovering 9 ways to improve your gut health.
9 Things You Can Do for a Happier Gut
1. Skip the Cocktail
When the clock strikes happy hour it can be tempting to indulge in one too many cocktails. But, if you’re trying to heal your gut, we recommend swapping your manhattan for a mocktail. Numerous studies have found that alcohol consumption may result in dysbiosis and the overgrowth of bacteria.
2. Add Probiotic Foods to Your Plate
Who knew you could recondition your gut with probiotic foods like kimchi and apple cider vinegar? To support a healthier gut we recommend piling your plate with naturally fermented foods. A study conducted by Stanford found that a diet rich in fermented foods like kefir and kombucha “led to an increase in overall microbial diversity.”
3. Manage Your Sweet Tooth
Refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup and sugar alcohols have earned a bad rep and for good reason. If you’re on a health kick we recommend steering clear from processed foods containing the highly addictive ingredient your taste buds love but your gut hates. “Sugar alcohols can be difficult for our bodies to fully digest and are frequently linked with IBS and overall gut discomfort,” says Shana Johnson, MPH, RD. Feel good about swapping your conventional cookie for a dalci brownie made with less than 10g of unrefined coconut sugar.
4. Take Time to Decompress
Ever get the gut feeling that you need to slow down, relax and decompress? Your mood and the abdominal discomforts you experience, like bloating and stomach cramping, are linked. Chronic inflammation and stress may even trigger dysbiosis and a leaky gut. For a balanced gut, take time at the end of a long day to meditate, move or wind down with your favorite book.
5. Get Moving
Take control of your gut health by engaging in your favorite workout, whether that’s a quick spin session or jog around the neighborhood. A diverse microbiome is just one good reason to lace up your sneakers and make room for a gym session. Compared to non-athletes, one 2014 study found that athletes who engaged in exercise had “a higher diversity of gut micro-organisms.”
6. Catch Some Z’s
If you’re battling an unbalanced gut you might be due for some major shut-eye. One 2014 animal study found that irregular sleeping patterns were linked to gut dysbiosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Get into the habit of switching off your devices and slipping into your coziest pajamas for a restful sleep that’s guaranteed to improve your mood and gut health.
7. Sneak In Some Dark Chocolate
A daily nibble or two of dark chocolate might be key to improving your gut health. Foods rich in polyphenols– think dark chocolate, green tea, and almonds, are linked to promoting better gut health with some studies showing how these plant compounds lead to the growth of probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus.
8. Rethink Your Cleaning Routine
When it comes to cleaning, you might be tempted to reach for any random household cleaner or disinfectant. If you’re trying to heal your gut we recommend rethinking not only your diet but your weekly cleaning routine. Toxic household cleaners have been shown to have an adverse effect on the gut microbiome according to the results of one 2018 study. The study explored the connection between household cleaning products and childhood obesity and found that infants exposed to toxic cleaners had higher levels of a gut microbe linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
9. Pile Your Plate with Veggies
Ditch the burger and find a way to fit more fiber-rich plants into your diet instead for a happier and healthier gut. A varied diet that’s low in animal products and rich in plants might just be key to reducing gut inflammation and boosting microbiome diversity. One 2013 study found that six overweight participants who followed a strict vegetarian diet experienced weight loss and reduced gut inflammation due to a changed gut microbiota.