56% of Indian families report digestive health problems (Healthvision). Understanding gut health mainly prepares you to differentiate heartburn from its popular cousin heart attack. The microorganisms living in the intestines are called Gut Microbiomes. We have about 200 different species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our digestive tracts. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary for a healthy body.
Gut health equals whole-body health
Regular and pain-free bowel movements, consistent energy, normal amount of gas, mental clarity, healthy reactions to food, and stress; that’s how good gut-health feels. If you want to assess medically, you can do simple fecal testing to diagnose your gut health. Remember, a healthy gut reduces the risk of conditions like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriatic arthritis.
An unhealthy gut: What to look out for?
Most of us are aware of common signs of a poor gut such as stomach discomfort in the form of gas, bloating, belching, and indigestion. For some of us, it could be an allergic reaction to new food and the anaphylaxis reaction could be either a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or shock. If you feel fatigued, it could also be that the bacteria in the gut are more off balance, with more bad bugs than you want.
What you can do every day to promote a healthy gut microbiome:
Three building blocks of a great gut are nutrition, exercise, and mental health.
Your greatest pal when it comes to gut health is fiber. You need about 25 gms of fiber/per day, and the best way is to consume fiber-rich food throughout the day such as berries, beet greens, and banana stems. Polyphenols (plant-based compounds) such as beans and blueberries when coupled with fiber produced good bugs in the gut. Your daily diet would look something like this:
A minimum of 30 mins/day of any form of exercise is a great start. An important thing is to incorporate a body-movement routine that is sustainable and can be carried throughout the day.
Read our blog on feel-good fitness to chart your own daily routine.
The gut-brain connection is very interesting. Say, your stomach interacts with your nervous system, and that flight or fight stress response can interrupt digestion or stop it altogether. While it is impossible to avoid stress in today’s world, a mild stress level with a sufficient seven hours of sleep is what your gut loves. Pro-tip – Hug it out as often as you can as hugging produces Oxytocin and this chemical reduces the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone.