Making major changes to your diet isn't easy. In fact, it can be incredibly tricky, especially if you're trying to abandon foods you've loved for most of your life. This could be because you're taking steps to improve your overall health and wellbeing, or you recently discovered an allergy or ailment that afflicts you. Some of the most common changes people make involve trying to improve their gut health or switching to a vegan or gluten-free lifestyle. These are positive changes that are sure to make a difference in your life — but again, they're not easy! Whether you're wondering how to improve gut health or how to eat the right vegan and gluten-free diet foods, we've compiled some of our favorite tips to get you started.
How To Improve Gut Health
The biggest thing to understand about the gut is that it is filled with bacteria and other microorganisms. Some of these are healthy and imp
ortant to your health, while others can throw your gut way off track. The key to improving your gut health is to support the "good bacteria" so it thrives and maintains digestive balance.
How Do You Know If Your Gut is Unhealthy?
There are several ways to tell if your gut is imbalanced. While this varies from person to person, keep an eye out for the following:
- Bloating, constipation, gas and other signs of an upset stomach
- Rapid, unexplainable shifts in weight
- Difficult sleeping at night
- Feelings of overwhelming fatigue
- Skin conditions causing irritation
- Intolerance to certain foods
Again, this list is not exhaustive, but any of these symptoms, or a combination thereof, can indicate an unhealthy gut.
Steps to Improving Gut Health
If you're seeking information on how to improve gut health, you probably suspect something is up. The following are some steps you can take to get on the path to a healthy gut:
- Introduce more prebiotics to your diet: Prebiotics feed the good bacteria that already exist in your gut. These can be found in dietary supplements, as well as in foods like legumes, onions, bananas and more.
- Add probiotics to your diet, too: Probiotics are living bacteria (the good kind) that add to what's in your gut. You can find them in supplements, along with fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi.
- Get plenty of sleep: Try different methods to ensure you're getting 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. Getting on a proper schedule and avoiding caffeine can help, and you'll see a positive effect on your gut health.
- Manage your stress levels: Feeling stress is incredibly common, and it's not good for anything — including your gut. Make an honest attempt at curbing that stress as much as possible, perhaps through yoga, meditation or even just laughing with friends and family.
- Drink lots of water and eat slowly: Drinking water helps your whole body, including the balance of bacteria in your gut. Eating slowly enables you to digest properly and absorb the nutrients in the food you eat.
- Alter your diet: Foods that are high in fat and sugar will harm your gut. Fiber, lean protein and plant-based alternatives, like those found in vegan diet food, will improve your gut health tremendously.
There are many ways to improve gut health. Determining what's right for you will take a certain amount of trial and error, but it will be worth it in the long run.
How To Eat The Right Vegan Diet Foods
Switching to a full-vegan diet isn't easy, even for those who already cut out meat. Animal products can be found where you least expect them. Plus, veganism is more than just a diet change — it's a lifestyle change. Some people are concerned that they won't be able to find vegan diet foods that they enjoy and that provide the nutrition they need. Even if something is "vegan," it's not necessarily "healthy." It's still important to avoid foods with a lot of fat, salt and sugar. The best vegan diet foods include:
- High-fiber foods, like oats, sweet potatoes and even brown rice
- High-protein choices, like beans, tofu and lentils
- Other foods that are rich in calcium and Omega-3s
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, the old adage of "an apple a day" simply won't do. It's best to eat a large, colorful variety of produce to get what your body needs. The biggest thing to remember is that vegan diet foods don't have to be boring or bland — do some research to find new vegan recipes that you love! Just always remember to check the labels of any ingredients to ensure that there are no hidden animal products.
How To Eat The Right Gluten-Free Diet Foods
There are plenty of reasons to try out a gluten-free diet. Some do it because of an allergic sensitivity to gluten, including celiac disease. This condition makes gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye and barley) harm the small intestine, leading to a host of stomach issues. Others try gluten-free diet foods as a way to be healthy. However, foods can be gluten-free and still contain a lot of fat and sugar. While this may be obvious for candies that happen to be free of gluten, it's a little more challenging to discern in certain substitutes, like gluten-free bread and cereal.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting gluten-free diet foods:
- As always, check and double-check the labels of any product you buy.
- Rely on naturally gluten-free foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Select gluten-free grains, especially ancient grains like quinoa and teff.
- Avoid beer and other alcohols made with ingredients like wheat.
- Assume that if something doesn't explicitly say it is "gluten-free," it's probably not — or is at least made in a factory without strict standards for cross-contamination.
- Stay away from unknown sauces as many contain wheat flour, including many types of pasta sauce, gravy and stock.
Much like eating vegan, gluten-free diet foods don't have to be boring. Experimenting is a great way to find a delicious new meal that stays within your dietary restrictions.
Gluten-Free Vegan Food: Is It Possible?
While it might seem like gluten-free vegan food takes too much off the table to be interesting, that couldn't be farther from the truth! It is totally possible to conform to a vegan and gluten-free lifestyle. It's a bit more restrictive, of course — vegan folks will have to give up things like pasta, while gluten-free eaters would have to abandon meat and eggs — but the two are quite compatible. The following are some of our best suggestions for eating gluten-free vegan food:
- We're going to stress this again in case you haven't gotten the point yet: always check your food labels.
- Focus on whole foods that are naturally vegan and gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Eat more raw food.
- Develop a list of your favorite gluten-free vegan food recipes so you always have something to fall back on, but also try plenty of new items to keep things interesting!
When you first go down the road of being both vegan and gluten-free, don't get discouraged. The switch might be hard at first, but your body will thank you!
Enjoy Your New Diet and Have Peace of Mind with Orgran
Whether you're finding out how to improve gut health or how to stick to vegan and gluten-free diet foods, it can seem like there's a lot of guesswork involved. Not to mention, you might be afraid of missing out on delicious snacks and meals! But with Orgran, there's no need to worry. We offer a great variety of 100% allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan diet foods — in fact, all of our products fit that description. Browse the full catalog of Orgran products to find something you love!