2020 calls for a change in lifestyle. Lockdown has given us that time to focus on what’s good for our well-being, so why not start with your gut ? Your gastrointestinal system starts at your mouth and includes the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon and rectum. 75% of your immune system is in your gut. Healthy gut bacteria can protect you from disease, keep inflammation low and even promote your mental health. So how do you improve your gut health?
Your gut is home to trillions of bacterial cells, many of which carry out vital roles to keep your body functioning and your health in the best possible condition. These bacteria, alongside fungi and viruses, make up your gut microbiome. And like everything else in your body you need a good balance for a healthy microbiome or you can be at an increased risk of inflammation and disease. Our simple tips will help you build a better gut. Luckily they’re not too difficult either, so you can easily incorporate them into your everyday life.
1. STRESS WILL AFFECT YOUR GUT
Stress affects so many parts of your body, contributing to problems such as diabetes and your gut feels it too. The microbiome doesn’t just affect your intestines, it influences other organs, including your brain. Not only is the gut filled with nerve cells that receive and provide information to the brain, the gut also produces more than 90% of the body’s serotonin, a hormone that helps regulate our mood or emotions.
Luckily, you can alleviate that stress in a number of different ways, starting with avoiding unnecessarily demanding situations and focus on your breathing. Yoga and meditation are good ways to get your breathing in order. If you feel like that’s not for you, diffusing essential oils help destress too, even going for a walk will give you time to think away from any stressful environments.
2. SLEEP WELL AND YOUR GUT WILL THANK YOU
A lack of sleep can contribute to a poor diet, increased alcohol consumption, and weight gain. Research has shown that individuals who get a good 7 to 8 hours have a more diverse microbiome. It also shows that sleep deprivation is bad for your brain. And when your brain isn’t happy your whole body can feel it.
Try and go to bed at around the same time every night so your body knows when it’s time to rest. Waking up hot and sweaty also prevents you from having a good night’s sleep so try to keep your room cold and dark.
3. STAY HYDRATED!
Drinking plenty of water is known to have a beneficials effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as keeping a good balance of bacteria in the gut. Alkaline water in particular is an excellent option in maintaining gut health because it has colon-cleansing and detoxifying properties.
While every person is different you should still aim to drink 2-3 litres of water per day. This will obviously depend on your lifestyle, if you’re a runner you’ll need more. Always remember the best way to know how much water you need is by listening to your body.
4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT, RIGHT?
Fermented foods are a great dietary source of probiotics, and a way to improve your gut health. I’m sure you have heard of kombucha, which is fermented tea. Fermentation is when bacteria and yeast ‘pre-digest’ the food or drink and produces a range of vitamins, organic acids and other beneficial compounds and is thought to help out a multitude of health issues, specifically digestive health.
Although kombucha is a fairly new idea fermentation has been around for centuries and was a way of preserving food and drinks before refrigeration came about. You may recognise the more traditional fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yoghurt and milk. Add these to your everyday dishes and you’ll see a boost in digestion and health.
So, it’s important to note that gut health is crucial for a healthy body and wellbeing. It’s up to you to keep it in balance by making improvements in your lifestyle and making positive changes to your diet. Take it one step at a time and you will notice how a healthier digestive system will mean a healthier you.
Check out our infographic below!