For getting a healthy body you need a healthy gastrointestinal system which will not only help you digest your food, but also work to absorb all necessary nutrients from your food. Our gut/digestive system is a complex part of our body consisting of many organs, namely stomach, liver, small intestine, colon etc and work under the control of chemicals/hormones secreted by our brain/nervous system. An imbalanced gut can cause bloating, acidity, constipation, bad breath, diarrhoea, mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue, bowel irritability etc. So to have a healthy gut is important for proper functioning of our body as well as our mind. Let’s see how to improve our gut health with some useful tips.
Probiotics – Our gut is rich in bacteria, the good ones help us in the process of digestion whereas the bad ones increases during any kind of gut infection. A healthy balance between these bacteria is crucial for a healthy living. Probiotics are food rich in ‘live’ good gut bacteria, which improves digestion, immune system, fights bad bacteria, improve reproductive and hormonal health. Good gut microbiota will also help in weight loss and sound mental health. Some of these probiotics include homemade curd, kimchi, kanji, kombucha, idli, dosa, kefir, pickles etc. Add probiotics during your lunch or dinner time to facilitate easy digestion. Try adding seasonal and local fruits, vegetables and grains during fermentation process to reap maximum food value.
Quick probiotic recipe – Take some curd, churn well using wooden churner, add roasted cumin powder, mint leaves and black salt. Add water according to your taste and mix well. Keep sipping after/during heavy meals.
Fibres – A fibre rich diet helps the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut by feeding them. Fibre rich food takes longer time to get digested, thus keeps us feeling satite for a longer duration. It signals our brain to produce happy hormones like seretonin. Fibrous food are also anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, which heals leaky gut walls to prevent the entry of harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. The fibre content of the food also act as natural laxative relieving constipation and facilitating easy exit of undigested food. Make sure to drink plenty of water while adding fibre to your diet. Some fibre rich food are listed as banana, apple, pear, spinach, broccoli, leeks, onion, beans, chia, beets, variety of lentils and pulses (unpolished), whole grains, millets, dates, prunes, berries, oranges etc. Also fruits and vegetable peels are high in fibre; example- raw banana peel, orange peel, bottle gourd peel, use them while cooking. Avoid having raw veggies during indigestion problems.
Dental health – Our digestion starts as soon as we eat any food. Oral health is important as we must chew our food properly to start the process of digestion. Bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, discolored teeth enamel, bad breath are all signs of digestive imbalance. Taking care of oral hygiene, brushing your teeth twice, rinsing with normal water post every meal, cleaning the tongue daily should be a must. Dental check-ups every 6 months ensure proper functioning of your mouth. Pay attention to any missing teeth, cavity, misalignments as soon as they appear. Eat more plant based food. Drink water without washing your mouth after waking up every morning. Your oral microbiota must be healthy to keep the gut healthy. Flossing in between the teeth helps in proper cleaning of the mouth.
Sugars – Excessive sugar cravings occur when our gut is unable to absorb proper nutrients from the food. It could be due to growth of too much of yeast in our gut. Too much of sugar or sugary food items leads to leaky gut which hampers nutrient absorption by the colon. To curb the sugar cravings, drink water whenever hungry. Replace sugary colas/drinks with fresh carrot, cucumber slices for snacking. Opt for wholesome fruits instead of juices. Too much of sugar also causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Add anti inflammatory veggies like leafy vegetables, gourds, beans, good-fats like ghee, mustard oil, avocados. Avoid any kind of refined sugars and opt for natural sugar sources like jaggery.
Mental health – We are what we eat and think. Your gut has a brain of its own. Any kind of stress, anxiety may lead to improper digestion. Watching TV/mobile while eating, mindless snacking on junk, eating wrong combination of food, overeating, longer fasting all have adverse effect on digestion. Pay attention to your mental health and eating habits to heal your gut. Reduce stress in everyday life, exercise daily, do group activities, join a hobby class, look up to the nature, listen to your favorite music, play a sport, meditate, all these will help your mental health and gut health in return. Getting enough vitamin D through sunlight is also important.
With all these helpful easy tips you can ensure to have a healthy gut. Also do follow a healthy lifestyle of eating on time, getting adequate sleep, hydrating yourself well and doing regular exercises to complement your gut to see the best results. So heal your gut to heal yourself from within.