Achieving increased productivity involves strategy, focus, smart decision making, consistency, and especially healthy dietary habits. Drop the ball on any one of these and your output will lag.

If you’re striving to be more productive at work and in life, you probably think first about eliminating the obvious distractions. Find a way to avoid falling down the social media rabbit hole. Silence your chat app for a stretch of time during the day. Create and stick to a to-do list unless an emergency arises.

While these steps will help even if done intermittently, productivity relies on routine and best practices. Stacking smart habits is sure to boost yours. Developing patterns of meditation, setting priorities, taking screen breaks, and learning how to say no, are great additions to your routine. But in the midst of forming them, don’t forget to tune up your engine. To bolster your productivity, your body needs to be fueled efficiently as well.

Developing some healthy dietary habits should be part of your stack for increased productivity. Even small changes to your routine can yield big productivity results. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your internal engine firing on all cylinders.

Go With Your Gut

There is a proven relationship between cognition and productivity. Your ability to gather information, process it using your experience and your senses, and make enlightened decisions is cognition. You can see why your cognitive performance would therefore inform your level of productivity.

The link between gut health and cognitive performance is also well researched. In fact, the gut is often referred to as a body’s “second brain.” What’s even better is that you have the ability to manipulate your gut to optimize cognition. Improving your gut health with supplements and dietary changes will make you a well-oiled machine.

Basically, the gut is where the bacteria necessary for healthy digestion resides. If your gut biome doesn’t contain the right amounts of the right bacteria, harmful bacteria will prosper. If it does, you will suffer from a variety of potential ills. These include inflammation in the body that leads to a whole host of issues, including fatigue, poor sleep, digestive issues, mood swings, lack of focus and more.

You should heed these signs of potential gut issues because each of them alone will interfere with your productivity at work. Combine more than one and you will struggle to get anything done at all. Understanding the science behind building a healthy microbiome is a smart way to start.

Know How the Gut Works

The gut comprises those parts of the body involved with digestion, from the mouth to the anus. It’s referred to as the intestinal tract, alimentary tract, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract in scientific terms. Whatever terms you choose, it’s basically the path of food from entrance to exit.

However, it’s what happens in between the two that is critical. Food must be broken down into nutrients that can be absorbed by the bloodstream and carried throughout the body. Therefore, it stands to reason that what you send into your bloodstream will determine your health status.

A healthy gut contains those good bacteria as well as immune cells. These keep bad bacteria, fungi, and viruses from reproducing and sending toxins into your bloodstream. But the gut also shares bi-directional communication with the brain. It links the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain with the GI tract.

If your digestive tract isn’t healthy, communication breaks down. And you know that communication breakdowns of any kind are antithetical to efficiency. If you want to increase productivity, but you neglect the healthy habits that create a strong cognitive link coming from the gut, your health and productivity will suffer.

Add Some Goodness to Your Gut

Since you are what you eat, and your gut needs good bacteria, you need to consume some. Fiber and probiotics are your best bets for high performance. Adding the right ones to your dietary routine may have you checking off items on your to-do list with speed. Just begin with eating an apple a day and then some.

You’ve probably heard about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. Maybe you’ve bought a bottle of it with the “mother” and tried to gag down a shot or two a day. Before you give up, you should try ACV gummies. As long as they contain the mother and a healthy dose of acetic acid, you’re still getting the full benefit of the liquid. They’re a lot easier to take and still put that probiotic active-culture goodness in your gut.

Other foods and beverages shown to deliver probiotics include fermented ones, like kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickled beets. For fiber, eating a raw apple with its skin on is one of the best sources you can get. Beans, lentils, whole grains, oat and wheat bran, and dried fruits will also keep your GI tract clean and healthy.

Additionally, a productivity-fueled body needs polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables. You should also avoid fatty and processed foods and make the move to more of a Mediterranean diet. Healthy habits for your gut biome are fruitful and can lead to increased productivity.

Make the Connection

Gut health is the key to your overall physical and mental well-being. How it works is complex, but research shows it affects more than just your digestion. It influences your immune system, mood and emotions, heart and brain health, restful sleep, and even the quality of your skin. A healthy gut is even believed to help protect you from developing cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Gut health is related to cognitive function, which is related to productivity. But it’s also linked to all the more traditional methods designed to bolster your motivation. For example, your ability to get a good night’s sleep and waking refreshed depends on gut health. (If you find you’re a fan of ACV gummies, there are sleep gummies too, which harness the power of chamomile and live cultures.)

Establishing exercise as well as work routines are easier when your GI tract is on track. And approaching your job with a positive mindset is facilitated by the unimpeded flow of communication between your gut and your brain.

It’s easy to see how having your GI tract running smoothly is a key component to good health. But the reverse is also true. Habits that contribute to good overall health will also improve your gut. For example, avoiding overconsumption of alcohol, being active, eating wisely, and sleeping restfully leads to better health all around.

So, before you think laser focus and a strong work ethic are all it takes to achieve increased productivity, look deeper and determine whether you maintain healthy dietary habits. A healthy gut may, in fact, be the inside track to your success.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you.