May 21, 2021

Trust your gut: 3 ways to support gut health

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Fiber is an important factor in a healthy digestive tract

Dietary fiber is an essential plant-based nutrient found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber helps normalize bowel movements and improve your gut health by moving fluid and waste through the digestive tract. Fiber-rich foods have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and other digestive diseases, lower cholesterol, help control blood sugar and aid in achieving a healthy weight.

Eat more fiber

Most people do not meet the recommended daily amount of fiber, which is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. It’s helpful to track your food and fiber intake using an app to see how much fiber you are eating. Set a goal to gradually increase fiber to meet the recommendation.  

Keep it moving

Increase fluids as you increase fiber to avoid abdominal discomfort. Drink water primarily, but sparkling water, coffee and tea all count toward daily hydration needs. (Be aware of how much coffee or caffeinated tea you drink, though. They can interfere with sleep at night.)

Be active

Work toward 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Track your physical activity for one week and set a goal to increase it a little bit each week.  

This information is presented by Health Plus, which provides resources to support the health of Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty and staff.