“The road to health is paved with good intestines!”
A survey conducted in 2021, states that 56 percent of Indian families have reported digestive health issues such as gas, acidity, and indigestion. More than 50 percent of them think that digestive health has an impact on weight, and energy levels and their lifestyle may be the cause of the abnormal bowel movement. Further, more than 70 percent shared that they resorted to home remedies and improving daily eating habits as a measure to tackle digestive health issues.
What is Gut Health?
‘Gut Health’ has gained popularity in recent times because many believe that the road to good health is paved through your digestive system. There are many scientific studies that state that we can think of our ‘Gut’ as our second brain.
So, what is this ‘gut’? Here’s a quick biology refresher to help you – your ‘gut’ is another name for your digestive system. It is made up of the organs that form your digestive system: your stomach, small intestines, large intestine, and colon. After your nervous system, this is the system that is considered second in command. Your gut and its lining are also known as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The job of this system is to control digestion, your motor functions, provide localized blood flow, while controlling the function of your immune and endocrine systems. This system is made up of more than 100 million nerve endings and connections. You can call this the ‘communication superhighway’ because it is continuously working and is in communication with your individual cells, muscles, and organ systems. Your gut and your brain are constantly talking to each other, sending signals to make sure all systems are in check and ready to perform their best. This system works tirelessly to protect your body and maintain the homeostasis or balance of your body.
Why Does Gut Health Matter?
Our gut’s main function is to break down all the foods that we eat to a simple form so that it can deliver nutrients to the entire body through our bloodstream. A healthy gut is imperative for this function. Scientific studies have found links between our gut health and our immune system, our mental health, cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, and endocrine and gastrointestinal disorders.
Most of the bacteria in our body are found in your gut. Our gut contains disease-fighting bacteria, immune cells, yeast, mold, and viruses, and this is what makes up your gut microbiome. You can think of this microbiome as a little ecosystem unto itself. When there is harmony between the good and bad bacteria and the other components of this ecosystem, our bodies are healthy and disease free.
Did you know: Each person has 40 trillion bacteria in their body – that is more bacteria in their body than they have cells! Each person has about 200 different species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in their digestive tract alone
An individual’s gut microbiome is affected by their diet, environment, medication use, stress, sleep, and genetics. Since everyone is unique, it results in individuals having unique gut microbiomes and hence the need for personalized, individualized care. Researchers today are tirelessly working to find new treatments to help manage the bad bacteria in our gut microbiome. In the meanwhile, here are some simple natural ways to manage your gut health and avoid diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, or Crohn’s disease.
5 Tips for better Gut Health
- REGULAR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Physical activity gets your colon moving, which helps with regular bowel movements. Exercise also helps with managing irritable bowel symptoms. In the series of gut health blogs, we will share exercises to help with your gut health.
- WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
It is a good idea to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, the more diverse you make it, the better it is for you. Try to eat fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Try to remember that processed foods are broken down more easily into sugar, which has a negative impact on your digestive system. It is suggested to take in more fiber as food or add a supplement. Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Eating fermented foods that contain good bacteria, a.k.a. probiotics is also beneficial for your gut health. How you eat matters too. Eat mindfully without distractions because this helps with optimal digestion. In the next blog, we will share more on gut friendly foods.
- STAY HYDRATED
For most people drinking eight 8-ounce glasses a day is a good place to start to stay hydrated.
- MANAGE YOUR STRESS
It is believed that reducing stress is essential to reduce heartburn. Try relaxation strategies such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises to help keep your stress levels and your hormones in check.
- GET MORE SLEEP
Many studies now advocate the importance of good sleep. Lack of quality and quantity of sleep is linked to a higher prevalence of weight gain and obesity, which in turn sets you up for digestive system issues.
It is true that as we age our metabolism ages too, so if you experience heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation on a regular basis, you know it is time to check in with your gut. As they say, it’s time to listen to and ‘Trust your gut!’
- A healthy digestive system equals a healthy body
- Your ‘gut’ is your second brain
- A healthy gut microbiome is essential to maintain good physical health