The Benefits of Diet and Exercise on Gut Health

A healthy lifestyle plays an important role in overall wellness—not just because of how good it makes you feel, but because it may contribute to improved immune health.

Proper diet and exercise helps keep the microbiome healthy
Proper diet and exercise helps keep the microbiome healthy

Diet and exercise are the building blocks for looking and feeling great. Prioritizing these healthy habits can do more than just help you manage your weight and improve your energy; they also have the power to influence your microbiota, the bacteria that make up your gut microbiome.1 When you take steps to support the good bacteria in your microbiome, it will help you avoid having an unbalanced gut that is at-risk for the negative effects of harmful bacteria. Read on to learn more about the benefits of a balanced diet and exercise on gut health.

Why the Microbiome Is Important to Human Health

When your gut microbiota is balanced and filled with good bacteria, you are more likely to enjoy the benefits of a healthy gut. In fact, research suggests that the bacteria in your gut may play a role in your risk for certain diseases.2 Studies also show that microbiota interact with each other and your GI tract to support an environment that promotes immune health.3

The Best Foods for Gut Health

Improving gut health starts by making smart food choices.2 Lean beef, beans, lentils, tofu, grilled chicken, and fish are good options for protein. Healthy fats from olive oil, whole eggs, fatty fish, and avocado are also key.

It’s important to limit fast-food favorites like pizza, French fries, soda, and cheeseburgers, which can lead to gut inflammation and may contribute to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.2 A Mediterranean-style diet that centers on olive oil, whole grains, fish, fresh vegetables, and fruits is best for gut health.2

How Prebiotic Supplements Can Help Improve Your Microbiome

Fiber plays an important role in gut health. According to the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that Americans consume 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day. To improve your daily dose, choose whole grains over processed flour and include fiber from foods like broccoli, beans, apples, dried fruit, popcorn, and nuts. If you find it difficult to get fiber from your diet alone, a supplement like Benefiber® can help.

For gut health, you may also want to take a daily prebiotic supplement like Benefiber®, which can help maintain a healthy balance within the gut microbiome. Probiotic-rich foods—including sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, soy sauce, and kefir—are beneficial to your gut health as well.4

Don’t Forget to Get Moving

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of fitness. Regular cardiovascular exercise from walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling will help you maintain a healthy digestive system.5  Stress-reducing activities like yoga and tai chi are also great for your gut health.

Overall, focusing on the right food choices and getting regular exercise will positively impact your gut health and overall wellbeing. It’s never too late to start.

Show ReferencesHide References

  1.  Wu, Gary D., et al. “Linking Long-Term Dietary Patterns with Gut Microbial Enterotypes.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 June 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3368382/.
  2.  Singh, Rasnik K., et al. “Influence of Diet on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Human Health.” Journal of Translational Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5385025/.
  3.  Clemente, Jose C., et al. “The Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Human Health: An Integrative View.” Cell, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5050011/
  4.  Parvez, S, et al. “Probiotics and Their Fermented Food Products Are Beneficial for Health.” Journal of Applied Microbiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2006, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16696665.
  5.  Bi, L, and G Triadafilopoulos. “Exercise and Gastrointestinal Function and Disease: an Evidence-Based Review of Risks and Benefits.” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2003, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15017652.
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