Maintaining a fit body and a robust mind has been linked to having a healthy gut. When you take care of your digestive system, you can improve your overall health. You don’t have to make things difficult, nor do you need to adopt some heavy routines like doing 100 pushups right out of bed. You only need to take on a few healthy habits to ensure you’re keeping your gut happy.
Unfortunately, many people tend to forget about their gut health. However, just recently, digestive health is again hogging the spotlight as a recent study done in Hong Kong has linked the severity of COVID-19 symptoms to a person’s gut microbiome. No doubt, this news further underscores the importance of digestive system in overall health.
If you want to boost your tummy’s health, particularly in this time of pandemic, you need to know the different ways to improve your gut health:
1. Diversify Your Diet
Processed foods have made eating easier for everyone, especially for those who are juggling studies, work, and other important activities. However, having the same canned tuna or pizza every meal can be bad for your health, particularly your gut. Besides, if you eat the same thing over and over, the microbial population in your digestive system will lack variety, which may lead to food allergies and infections.
If you want to diversify the microbial community in your gut, you must start diversifying your diet—even better if you lean more on fruits, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates.
Cultured dairy products like kefir and yogurt can help introduce good bacteria in your body. Although these microbes may not stay inside your system for a long time, they can have positive effects on your digestion.
2. Take Your Time When Eating
Medically speaking, digestion starts when you put food inside your mouth. Thus, chewing is part of the digestive process. Even if the stomach has strong acids and enzymes to break down food to be absorbed by the intestines, there are still some types of food that can be difficult to digest. To optimize the benefits that your body can get from the food you eat, don’t forget to take your time when eating. Enjoy every morsel you put inside your mouth. Chew your food carefully so your stomach will not be forced to work overtime.
3. Consider Adding Prebiotics and Probiotics
The gut microbiome is composed of different types of bacteria and microorganisms. If the percentage of bad microbes in your gut is higher than good ones, your overall health and immunity to common sicknesses may suffer. Plus, your risk of contracting cardiovascular and metabolic diseases like diabetes also increases.
As mentioned earlier, eating a wide variety of foods can help improve your gut microbiome. Adding prebiotic and probiotic supplements to your diet can boost your gut’s overall condition by fostering growth of good bacteria. Aside from better digestion, the health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics also include enhanced brain functioning and immunity.
4. Spice Things Up
Spices, such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric, can improve a meal’s smell, appearance, and taste. Apart from making food more palatable, these spices can also boost gut health as they are known to possess antibacterial properties that can control the population of bad gut bacteria without harming the good ones.
5. Keep Hydrated
Many are aware that staying hydrated is one secret to healthy skin. In fact, dry and dull skin is a sure sign that you need to increase your fluid intake. But did you know that staying hydrated is also important to your digestion? For one, water is essential in getting toxins and wastes out of the body. Also, it’s vital in keeping the mucosal lining of the intestines in perfect condition, which is important for proper absorption of nutrients and efficient bowel movement.
6. Mind Your Dental Health
As mentioned earlier, digestion starts in the mouth. Thus, a good dental hygiene is important for an efficient digestive system. Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly can prevent harmful bacteria to grow in your mouth and reach your gut.
7. It’s Time to Move
When it comes to your bowels, you want them to move regularly and efficiently. One good way to achieve that is to exercise often. Just by walking your dog after a meal, you can assist in digestion by moving food along from your stomach, to your intestines, and ultimately to all the cells in your body.
8. Clock in More Sleep
Sleep issues and gut health are like the chicken and egg debate. Everybody knows that the chicken comes from the egg, but you won’t have eggs if there’s no chicken to lay them in the first place.
The same relationship is true with sleep and the digestive system. Sleep deprivation can bring about gut problems which, in turn, contributes to inability to sleep. So, it’s a vicious cycle that you need to address. Start clocking at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night if you want to improve your health.
9. Rest, Don’t Stress
A chronic state of stress not only affects the mind, it also affects your gut. Some symptoms that may occur due to stress include bloating, constipation, stomach cramps, acid reflux, and even ulcers. The hormone cortisol, which the body releases when under stress, has direct effects on digestive health.
Give your mind and body a break to allow your gut to recover. Enjoy your days and participate in recreational activities to take your mind off stress and anxiety. Have fun with your friends, bond with your family, eat dark chocolate, spend time meditating, and, if you want, use essential oils to calm your nerves. If you need to raise your mood and banish stress quickly, simply try to laugh even if there’s nothing funny at all. By willing yourself to laugh, you will start to feel lighter and less stressed.
10. Kick Out Your Bad Habits
Late-night food binging, excessive drinking, and smoking are bad habits that you need to kick out of your life because they are bad for your gut health. Late-night snacking can lead to indigestion and heartburn, especially if you lie down immediately after a meal. Excessive alcohol in your system, meanwhile, is linked to various digestive conditions such as heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, and even gastrointestinal bleeding. Lastly, smoking raises your risk of acid reflux which can lead to esophageal cancer if left untreated for a long time.
Gut health is important for your overall health, so it makes perfect sense to give it all the attention and TLC it deserves. There are many ways to improve gut health, and making them a part of your daily habits can ensure better overall health and improved quality of life for you. Having a healthy diet plays a big role. After all, if you are what you eat, then your digestive functions can make or break your health.