MANAGING YOUR MICROBIOTA
Improving Your Gut Health Naturally
By Hiranmayii Awli Mohanan
Did you know that our gut is home to microorganisms, specifically 300 to 500 different species of bacteria that live in the digestive tract? Collectively, they are known as gut microbiota, and they are hugely important for our health. Interesting enough, the food that we eat greatly impacts the colony of bacteria that live in our stomach. So here are some science-backed tips to improve your gut health, naturally.
TAKE PREBIOTICS OR PROBIOTICS
Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement to your diet is a great way to promote your gut health. Both of these work essential for the body and work hand in hand. Probiotics improve the microflora or good bacteria in the body while prebiotics serve as food for the microflora. Think of it like a garden — probiotics are the flowers planted inside of a garden while prebiotics are the fertiliser, water and soil that a garden needs to thrive. It’s best to consult a doctor before taking these supplements because people with bacterial overgrowth, such as SIBO (small intestinal overgrowth) should not take probiotics.
LOWER YOUR STRESS
Stress is hard on your whole body, especially your gut. So, in order to keep your gut and entire body healthy, lower your stress levels through activities like meditation, talking it out with a friend, walking, aromatherapy, massages, reducing your caffeine intake, laughing and many more.
PRIORITISE SUFFICIENT SLEEP
Similar to the previous point, getting insufficient quality sleep can be seriously detrimental to your gut health, which as a result, can contribute to more sleep issues. Prioritise getting at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you have insomnia or trouble sleeping, perhaps it’s time to consult a physician.
Many of us are guilty for chomping down food as soon as it reaches the table. This, my friends, is not healthy. Chewing your food thoroughly and slowly promotes full digestion and nutrient absorption. This tip will help you reduce the digestive discomfort and maintain a healthy gut flora.
WATCH FOR FOOD INTOLERANCE
The human body is a beautiful thing — it will give you warning signs or symptoms for food that it simply can’t accept. The usual food intolerance symptoms include cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rashes, nausea, fatigue and acid reflux. If you feel these symptoms, you might want to pay attention to what you ate and to eliminate trigger foods to see if your condition improves. If you can identify the food that’s contributing to your symptoms, you can witness a positive change in your digestive health.
Drinking plenty of water has proven to be helpful to many ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Staying hydrated has
a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. This is a simple and natural way to keep your gut healthy.
CHANGE YOUR DIET
Practising a healthy diet can do wonders to the body and gut. A diet high in fibre, such as from fruits and vegetables, contribute to for a healthy gut microbiota. Adopting more of a plant-based diet with lean proteins can also positively impact the gut. Besides that, an important aspect of promoting gut health is to stay away from processed, high-sugar and high- fat food like fast food, instant noodles, sausages and so on.
Exercise is not only a precursor to good heart health, it also helps with weight loss, improve gut health which in turn, may control obesity. Exercise for at least 30 minutes every alternate days, if not every day. If exercise feels like a chore, look for a workout buddy for consistent motivation and take up something that doesn’t bore you such as badminton, hiking, cycling, swimming and etc. Switch it up every now and then and you’d notice a positive change on your gut and body.