This article is written by Shadan Jameela.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract has the important function of digesting the food you eat. However, this is not the only job it has; it also has other ones that help keep the body healthy and fit.
The gut also houses over two-thirds of the immune system; if it is healthy, you are less prone to getting sick. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, memory, sleep patterns and quality, appetite, and other bodily functions.
Since a healthy gut equates to a healthy body, it is vital that it is always at its peak of wellness.
Unfortunately, certain habits can cause an imbalance in your gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to issues with your digestion, lower immunity, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and other symptoms that can affect your daily activities.
If you want to keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy and be at your best all the time, make sure you do away with these mistakes and unhealthy habits:
1. Not eating a lot of fruits and vegetables
When you have a busy schedule, it is easy to rely on fast food and other store-bought nutrient-devoid fares to fill your tummy. This practice will do nothing good for your gut and overall health.
A diet that is high in animal proteins yet low in fruits and vegetables can cause an imbalance in your gastrointestinal tract.
Fiber is one of the vital nutrients that keeps the gastrointestinal tract healthy. Fruits and veggies are the best sources of this gut flora and digestion-friendly substance. If you don’t eat plenty of these food products, you will lose out on a lot of prebiotics that can fill your microbiome with friendly microbes.
Eating fresh produce and fermented vegetables, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, every day will allow you to restore and maintain gut health easily. When eating cooked veggies, opt for more baked, broiled, and steamed ones and less of those that are fried to avoid unhealthy fats.
2. Taking probiotic supplements haphazardly
Probiotics are your best friends when it comes to maintaining gut health. You can get these beneficial microorganisms from yogurt, miso, fermented vegetables, and milk drinks (kefir).
You can also get these healthy bacteria from probiotic supplements, as well. However, it is not a good habit to buy the first supplement you see in the pharmacy or supermarket. Drinking probiotics only when you feel like doing so won’t be beneficial, as well.
To get the most from these supplements, you have to choose the most recommended probiotics for men and women. It should contain the right amount of CFUs or colony-forming units, which will help keep the intestinal flora in balance.
Additionally, make sure it is a supplement that suits your lifestyle. Capsule and tablet forms are more convenient to take. However, if smoothies are part of your daily meals, you can always go for powdered ones that you can add to your drinks.
Make sure you read the label and follow the instructions for taking the supplement, as well. If you need to take it with a meal, do not disregard this information. Lastly, to get the most from probiotics, it is best to take them at the same time every day. You have to drink them daily and avoid skipping a dosage even for only one day.
3. Failing to manage stress effectively
Feeling constantly stressed out is one of the worst things you can do for your body. It affects your mental and emotional health. Various physical functions are impacted, as well, when you don’t know how to manage stress properly, including your gastrointestinal system.
Stress can affect the immune system, too. When this happens, it is unable to fight harmful bacteria in the gut. This can cause an imbalance in the microbiome, with more harmful bacteria or yeast inhabiting the stomach. Aside from having problems with your digestion, an excess of bad bacteria can hinder the production of serotonin – the “feel good” neurotransmitter helps the body fight stress and regulates mood and sleep.
Whether you are under constant stress or not, you have to learn how to manage it to keep your gut health under control. Try yoga, practice mindful meditation, and always have a balanced diet.
4. Not getting enough exercise
Regular workouts can also help you maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract. When you have a fixed workout routine, you can improve the healthy microbes and boost the diversity of the species in your gut, and maintain this condition.
Conversely, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you will allow more bad bacteria to settle in your gut, thereby causing an imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract.
If you don’t work out at the gym, try other forms of exercise that you like doing, such as running, going on hikes, cycling, or swimming. Whichever activity or sport you choose, make sure you do it regularly.
5. Not drinking enough fluids
Water is another substance that helps you maintain a healthy gut. It supports your body’s microbiome by keeping the intestinal lining strong and facilitating proper and regular digestive movements.
When you don’t get enough fluids, you can develop constipation, bloating, stomach ulcers, and acid reflux. All these won’t do anything good for your microbiome.
To support your gut health, drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Fresh fruit juices, kefir, probiotic beverages, and smoothies are great for helping you stay hydrated as well. However, avoid or minimize your intake of alcohol since it is bad for gut health.
Aside from having better gut health, when you avoid and correct these habits, you will experience improved overall wellness. As such, start making these changes now.
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