A healthy gut ensures a healthy body, and understanding the role of the gut is crucial to keep your body working optimally.
Let’s start from the basics, what is the gut? The gut, or gastrointestinal tract, is the tract that starts from your mouth all the way to your rectum, consisting of all of the organs in the digestive system. Its primary function is to digest food, absorb nutrients and produce all the chemicals or neurotransmitters that enable our brain to communicate to our body, meaning our gut influences both our physical and mental health.
There are billions of bacteria or microbes that are housed in your gut, working hard by the second and playing a vital role in helping and protecting your body, all from supporting your immune system, regulating metabolism, to affecting your mood.
A balanced gut is a great place to start when treating symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, and becoming sick constantly. Prioritizing your gut health will most certainly help improve your quality of life.
Now that you know more about the theory, let’s move on to the practical. How can you ensure that your gut is happy and healthy? Here are some tips from a holistic perspective:
Mind what you eat
Feeding your body a variety of whole and unprocessed foods is one of the best things that you can do for your overall health. When it comes to your gut, kefir and miso are star ingredients that you can eat to add a diversity of bacteria to your gut, as well as fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, which are rich in healthy probiotics. Let’s not forget to keep your body hydrated, a big glass of water first thing in the morning will help your body reduce toxins and get bowel movement started.
Other foods that bring good benefits to your gut are dark leafy greens, yogurt, kombucha, ginger, blueberries, turmeric, almonds, and green tea.
Keep on moving
Keep your gut happy by keeping your body active during the day, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be at the gym every single day, by simply walking instead of taking the bus, dancing with your friends, hiking, and reconnecting with nature or doing a fun sport as a social activity, you will be helping your intestinal walls expand and contract, making digestion as smooth as it can be.
If you work in an office, it can be easy to sit down behind your desk for hours, but taking a break to get some tea, taking the stairs, and stretching every hour is great to keep your body moving. If you have access to a standing desk, alternate between sitting down and standing up every 30-60 minutes, this will also help your back and improve circulation. Remember that taking breaks is important, both for your body and productivity.
Reduce alcohol intake
Alcoholic drinks affect your gut flora and the delicate balance in your microbiome. When consumed in big amounts, alcohol also inhibits the production of your precious digestive enzymes. Try to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum and enjoy it on special occasions to keep your gut happy and digestion flowing.
Keep stress to a minimum
Stress is part of everyone's lives and there really is no way to completely avoid it. That said, you do have the power to decide how you manage it in a way that affects you the least possible. Stress directly affects the gut bacteria, digestion, immune system, and energy. When your body is stressed, your body gets in “defense mode” shutting down functions that are considered not important, including digestion.
Restorative yoga is a great way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also called “rest and digest”, this system helps calm the body and regulate digestion by relaxing the sphincter muscles. So time to unroll that yoga mat for a happy mind, body, and gut.