There’s no debating the importance of a healthy gut for overall well-being—and now, more than ever, staying in optimal health is top of mind for most people. Luckily, summer is a great time to get your microbiome in prime shape. As we enter these mid-summer days, here are some fantastic ways you can improve gut health from the people over at MindBodyGreen (mbg).
Get outside and find a stress-busting activity you love
Being out of touch with nature is one major factor that messes with gut health. “As we narrow our contact with nature, animals, and other humans, we get a more narrow microbiome,” triple-board-certified physician and gut health expert Zach Bush, M.D., tells mbg. To remedy this, prioritize spending more time outdoors—go on a hike or jog off the beaten path.
Make probiotics part of your daily routine
One of the most straightforward ways to support your microbiome: Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. That’s because, when you take a probiotic supplement, you add more good bacteria to your gut. Not only do these beneficial bacteria help manage digestive health issues (like diarrhea and constipation), but they may also help build a stronger immune system thanks to the gut health and immunity connection.
Go organic (or organic-equivalent) when you can
You may associate summer with lovely fruits and vegetables. However, many experts believe that consuming produce grown with pesticides and herbicides may negatively affect the good bacteria in your microbiome. To minimize this, opt for organic produce and packaged foods when possible.
Reset your circadian rhythm
Summer days may seem longer thanks to ample daylight, but it’s important to stick to a healthy, consistent sleep schedule nonetheless. To avoid falling into erratic resting patterns and counter the gut-sabotaging effects of poor sleep habits, you’ve got to bite the bullet and prioritize a sensible bedtime that allows for you to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
To help reset your circadian rhythm—and make the transition to an earlier bedtime and wakeup time easier—avoid electronics and bright light at night (or at least try some blue-light blocking glasses after sunset) to promote melatonin production, and aim to get outside for at least five minutes first thing in the morning for some natural light exposure.
Find a way to be around animals
The more contact you have with an animal species, the more biodiverse your gut becomes. No pets at home? Something as simple as volunteering at a shelter or even an equine center and being in contact with those animals can help. Bonus: Animals help alleviate stress, too!