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HOW TO BOOST GUT HEALTH? PART 2

A healthy gut means that there are more helpful bacteria in your gut than those that are harmful. When this intricate balance is maintained in your body, the chances of obesity are lowered, there is reduced inflammation and you keep a strong immune and metabolic system.

In our previous article, ‘How to boost gut health (Part 1)’, we suggested three ways through which you can improve your gut health. A balanced nutritious diet, regular exercise and quality sleep are reliable methods to improve the health of your gut and body in general.

Now, let’s look at some more ways you can improve your gut health:

  1. REDUCE STRESS:



A 2019 psychoneuroimmunology study found that stress and depression can alter the gut bacteria's composition as a consequence of stress hormones, inflammation, and autonomic alterations. You might have observed that when you’re stressed you lose your appetite which slows down your digestion. So, when you’re stressed for longer periods of time, it can trigger gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhoea and indigestion. Chronic stress over time can disrupt gut function and lead to more acute issues like irritable bowel diseases.



In our article, ‘5 reasons why you should listen to your gut feeling’ we explained the gut-brain connection. So, if you struggle with digestive issues you should find healthy ways to calm your mind and lower your stress and anxiety. You can try yoga or mindful meditation, reach out to a professional trainer to develop a relaxing workout routine or seek help from a mental health professional.


Mitigating stress levels can help your gut in reducing inflammation and GI distress, and refocus your body’s attention on absorbing nutrients and vitamins more efficiently. A relaxed mind will keep you nourished.


2. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND SMOKING:

Repeated consumption of alcohol can be detrimental to your microbiome; it can alter its composition and affect the gut barrier. Excessive drinking can increase the abundance of pathogenic microbes and cause gastritis, an irritation of the gut in which it becomes inflamed.




This intestinal inflammation can lead to heartburn, chronic discomfort, ulcers and bacterial infections. Liquor can also increase constipation, diarrhea, and bloating among those prone to these digestive issues.


Alcohol is not the friend your gut wants and neither is smoking. Smoking cigarettes can cause multiple life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer and liver damage. It fosters heartburn and peptic ulcers. It escalates the risk of Crohn's disease and gallstones. Smokers are at high risk for cancer of the mouth, lip, and voice box along with esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, colon, and rectum cancer.


Cutting down your consumption of alcohol and smoking is indeed good for your health. It can improve your quality of life by reducing digestive distress and lowering the risk for cancerous diseases and other digestive disorders.

3. KEEP AWAY FROM NEEDLESS ANTIBIOTICS:

Differentiate between when you need to take antibiotics to fight bacterial infections and needless or inappropriate use of antibiotics. A study covering 204 countries, showed that the global antibiotic consumption rate has risen by 46 per cent from 2000 to 2018.

Antibiotic misuse or overuse is a major global health concern that can give rise to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance makes it harder to treat bacterial infections than those caused by non-resistant bacteria. According to the World Health Organisation, it can lead to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.


Even a short course of antibiotics agitates the bacterial population in your gut, wiping out many helpful good bacteria. Don’t abuse antibiotics or any other drugs. Only take them when prescribed by a certified health professional.


4. INCLUDE A VARIETY OF NUTRITIOUS FOODS:


Diversity in your food habits will maintain a diverse microbial community in your gut.

The nutrition profiles of every food differ. Some are high in protein, others in carbohydrates or fats. Including a wide variety of food choices in your diet ensures you meet your nutrient requirements while enjoying the different flavours and spices nature has to offer.

A diverse diet can even lengthen your lifespan according to an observational study of 60,000 women from Sweden. It found that those who regularly consumed 16 to 17 healthy foods were 42% less likely to die from any cause than those who ate only up to 8 healthy foods. The study found that with the addition of one healthy food to a diet, the risk of death was lowered by 5%.


This study defined healthy foods as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and dairy and unhealthy foods as refined carbohydrates, sugars, and foods with high amounts of trans fats.


5. YOUR GUT NEEDS REST TOO:



Like you take breaks to rest your mind and body, your gut needs some time out as well. From your first meal in the morning to your light night snacking, your gut is always on duty. Giving your body a break from digesting food can protect you from digestive diseases and improve your gut health.


Now you don’t have to take a day-long break from eating like your Sundays off from work! A rest for around 12 hours, that is between an early dinner and breakfast the next morning gives your gut plenty of time to heal.






6. DITCH FAD DIETS:


Your gut needs a diversity of the bacterial population that you get from eating varied kinds of food. However, these trendy diets are restrictive in nature without any corroborative medical research to support them. Fad diets may promise you fast and easy weight loss methods but they bring more risks and harmful consequences that can last a long time.




In our article, ‘How to boost gut health (Part 1)’, we explained that your gut microbiome can change with every meal you take. These diets can alter your microbiota, fail to fulfil your nutritional requirements and disturb the intricate ecosystem within your gut.


Living a healthy life, maintaining an appropriate or desired weight, and keeping your gut healthy - are all based on your daily lifestyle choices. Cut back on alcohol and cigarettes. Try out different foods with good nutrition profiles. Pick more seasonal vegetables and fruits. Relax your mind with some mindful meditation. Avoid late-night snacking and give your gut some much-needed break.


These are choices that you can make consistently; habits you can form by incorporating them in your lifestyle. Start by picking one good habit or dropping one bad habit and witness the changes to your life.

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