The gut health plays a crucial role in the overall well-being of an individual. The term gut health encompasses a wide range of meanings, including multiple positive aspects of the gastrointestinal tract, such as the effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of gastrointestinal illnesses, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, effective immune status, and a state of well-being. In other words, the term covers everything from aiding digestion to supporting a robust immune system, and a healthy gut contributes to numerous aspects of health.
Fortunately, there are proven ways that can help you know how to improve gut health to enhance and promote a thriving microbiome—the community of bacteria that resides in the digestive system. By making conscious choices in diet and lifestyle, a balanced gut microbiome can be easily fostered with reduced digestive discomfort, a good support for the body’s optimal functioning.
In this guide, we will explore the gut health meaning and 15 evidence-based strategies that can help improve gut health and let you enjoy the benefits of a happier digestive system.
What is gut health?
To explain gut health meaning, it is essential to understand all the intestinal complaints that lead an individual to consult a doctor. The list may include a range of complaints that are pretty common among the general population, such as:
- irritable bowel syndrome
- food intolerance
- abdominal pain and cramps
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- blood in stools 
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
So, to answer the question of what is gut health, it is all about maintaining a lifestyle or dietary habit that prevents the occurrence of the above conditions.
What are the top 15 ways to improve your gut health?
1. Maintain a healthy diet:
Aim to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts in your diet. Moreover, eating a healthy diet and smaller, more frequent meals promotes a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Add a variety of gut health foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to your every meal.
2. Consume fermented foods or probiotics:
Among the best gut health foods are fermented foods like yogurt, which contain beneficial probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ that can improve gut health. They can help prevent diarrhea associated with antibiotics and improve symptoms of IBS. 
3. Increase fiber intake:
Fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes nourish the beneficial gut bacteria and help with constipation problems. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of fiber daily to help avoid gas, bloating, and discomfort and improve overall gut health.
4. Minimize processed foods:
Processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and additives, negatively impacting gut health. They have food additives called emulsifiers that may affect your gut health. Choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
5. Get enough sleep:
Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep duration can disrupt the gut microbiome. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
6. Exercise regularly:
Regular physical activity promotes healthy digestion, reduces inflammation, and enhances gut motility.
7. Manage stress:
Chronic stress can affect the gut-brain axis and disrupt gut health. Engage in stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, deep breathing, or spending time in nature.
8. Avoid unnecessary over-the-counter medications:
Over-the-counter dietary supplements of vitamins and minerals are on the rise, and many do not positively affect gut health.
9. Include a diverse range of plant-based foods in your diet:
Maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet, as opposed to being an omnivore that includes consuming all types of meat and seafood, can help improve your gut health to a large extent.
10. Seek professional guidance:
If you’re experiencing persistent gut issues or have specific concerns, consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.
11. Limit intake of added sugars:
Excessive consumption of added sugars can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and contribute to various digestive issues, obesity, and several metabolic diseases.
12. Stay hydrated:
Drinking adequate water supports healthy digestion and helps maintain optimal gut function.
13. Reduce alcohol intake:
Excessive alcohol consumption can harm the gut lining and have severe effects on the structure and function of the entire gastrointestinal tract. Drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it altogether.
14. Quit smoking:
Smoking has been linked to imbalances in gut bacteria and an increased risk of digestive disorders. It has been known to pose a significant risk factor for intestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease and peptic ulcer.
15. Eat mindfully:
Chew your food thoroughly, eat at a slower pace, and pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Mindful eating supports proper digestion.
- What are some of the best gut health foods?
Some of the best gut health foods include high-fiber foods like oats, bran, beans, lentils, dried peas, dried foods, and foods made with whole grains.
- How to improve gut health naturally?
To learn how to improve gut health naturally, you need to strengthen your digestion with some of the best gut balance probiotics, fiber-rich foods, eat lots of vegetables, and fermented foods.
- Can spices help improve gut health?
Yes, spices like garlic, turmeric, ginger, and others are also excellent gut health foods as they help rid the gut of harmful bacteria.
Improving gut health is a gradual process, and there are numerous ways by which you can do so. In this article, we have gone deep into the actual gut health meaning as well as the 15 best ways that tell you how to improve gut health. We have also discussed some of the best foods for gut health that you can experiment with to find the best approach.
This article is written from a health and wellness perspective and is not medical advice. Kindly seek the help of a certified medical practitioner before initiating any treatment.
- ‘Gut health’: A new objective in medicine?
- Keeping Your Gut in Check
- Gut Microbiota for Health: How Can Diet Maintain A Healthy Gut Microbiota?
- Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition
- Effect of Alcohol Consumption on the Gut
- Effect of Cigarette Smoke on Gut Microbiota: State of Knowledge
- Mindful eating: what we know so far
- Water, Hydration and Health