What lifestyle habits lead to an unhealthy gut?
The gut bacteria or scientifically known as the gut microbiome, are vital to living a healthy life in a fulfilled manner. Even if some microorganisms tamper with your body, a few beneficial bacteria are damn essential and need to be safeguarded for healthy body functioning. According to medical research, our body is home to a number of useful gut bacteria that help to treat various health conditions such as bowel diseases, skin ailments, insulin sensitivity, and others.
But well-known factors and habits such as stress, negativity, unhealthy food habits, lack of exercise, and others can tamper with your gut microbiota, which negatively affects human health. When you start noticing issues such as stomach discomfort, bloating, gas, and bowel issues, you can make a wild guess that there is a problem with your gut. But what has caused an unhealthy gut?
Yes, it is the lifestyle that you have been following for days. It is the unhealthy habit of eating junk and processed food, or you could be skipping the workouts and walks and sitting for prolonged periods. If you have an unhealthy gut functioning, it is important to note down the real reasons for the same.
We have listed down a few lifestyle habits that can cause an unhealthy gut. You need to get rid of these for gut health benefits. These are given below:
a. Eating habits
What do you have for your breakfast? It is a bowl of cereal, a packet of chips, or a loaf of bread with butter. If you eat more processed foods and less natural vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and other nutrition-packed foods, then it can affect your gut negatively. It is essential to record your food habits and study them. Adding plant-based foods or consulting a gut health expert will surely help you.
Several people think that it is the lack of exercise or uneven timings that is causing bloating or acidity. But it could be the kind of foods that you consume and a poor diet schedule that result in bloating, chronic sleep disruption, and an unhealthy gut.
Stress –is an unavoidable evil that is troubling us all these days. Whether it is physical stress or mental stress levels, it is impacting your digestive tract, gut flora, and other organs too. We all associate stress with health issues, and it is 100 percent true. Hence, it is better if you take suitable measures to reduce stress levels and balance them out.
Good stress is okay as it motivates you to work on your projects and increases your productivity and well-being. But when it turns into bad stress, it has a negative impact on your hormonal levels and gut. Just imagine your gut stressed with constant project deadlines and emotional health issues! Yes, it happens, and that’s why you feel like a burden on your stomach when you are stressed.
c. Lack of exercise
If you don’t move, you lose. It is because exercise and physical exertion have a good impact on your bowel movement, gut health, digestive system health, and mental health. You release endorphins; and that is why you feel happy when you exercise and your mental health improves as well. But when you don’t, your emotional health suffers, you feel lethargic, and your gut feels like it is in a state of a slump.
d. Substance abuse
Do you smoke, drink alcohol excessively or consume substances? Well, if you are, then let us tell you, that such habits have a more profound and unfavorable impact on your healthy microbiome. Substance abuse makes things worse; not only do you deal with a number of personal and family issues, but your gut system also suffers a setback. Hence, it is essential to evaluate such habits and determine whether they are in control or not.
Is it possible to revive the gut naturally?
Of course, it is 100 percent possible to revive your gut naturally. If you follow a healthy lifestyle and inculcate healthy habits such as exercising, eating plant-based and variety of nutritious foods, fighting stress, and managing a work-life balance, it will surely revive your gut levels. You don’t have to climb mountains to adopt this lifestyle. You simply need to be extra careful of what you eat, whether you move around or not, and whether you are stressed out all the time or not.
Even if you take a single step towards your diet, exercise, and stress, your gut will become healthy, making you happy, and will help you live your life to the fullest.
What are the easiest changes to make?
As we mentioned above, you need to make simple changes in your lifestyle, and you can do it easily. It is a myth that a healthy lifestyle cannot be maintained by an ordinary person. Moreover, it doesn’t have to be boring. You can make it interesting by accepting your healthy lifestyle happily and not as a compulsion.
But are you wondering which habits you need to incorporate? Don’t worry; we have got all the good habits covered in the following sections.
i. High intake of fiber.
According to research, intake of fibrous foods has a significant impact on your gut health. Fiber makes your bowel movements easier and the symptoms of constipation, hard stools, and bloating go away. You feel lighter when your stomach is clear, and you don’t feel that heaviness or bloated feeling in your stomach. Foods with high content of fiber are mostly plant-based. Fibrous foods that can incorporate into your diet are as follows:
- Pulses, legumes, and whole grains.
- Fibrous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and others.
- Nuts particularly soaked almond nuts.
- Fruits such as bananas, apples, and others.
ii. Intake of prebiotics and probiotics.
Do you know about the superfoods that simply work on your gut bacteria magically for a more diverse microbiome? Yeah, these are prebiotics and probiotics, read the difference between prebiotic and probiotic and how they both are beneficial to health. It is a proven fact that prebiotics and probiotics help in the growth of good gut bacteria in the body and make your gut healthy. Some prebiotics is excellent in improving insulin sensitivity and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Examples of prebiotic foods are fruits, whole grains, and all types of vegetables. Yes, that is simple, actually!
Similarly, probiotics have a healthy impact on the gut microbiome and gut microbiome diversity and improve their functioning. And when it comes to probiotic foods, some examples are kimchi, fermented foods, and yogurt. Make fermented foods as they can be easily cooked in your local region. Don’t try anything trendy but what your ancestors have been making! It will help.
iii. Avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Sugar is like the slow killer and your gut’s biggest enemy. When you consume foods loaded with sugar, such as cakes, pastries, chocolates, biscuits, candies, and even processed beverages, you are consuming no nutrition but sugar. A high-sugar diet reduces the good bacteria in the body and increases inflammation in the body, resulting in ailments and conditions such as bad teeth and obesity. Hence, it is better if you are aware of which foods contain sugar and hidden sugar as well and avoid them completely altogether. Don’t pressurize yourself, just ensure that you check labels before you buy foods and know your timings of cravings.
iv. Chocolate consumption.
This is good news for all chocolate or cocoa lovers. Chocolate consumption is good for health, but this doesn’t imply that you can munch on a huge bar of sugar-loaded chocolate every day. When we say chocolate, it is always dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a food that is high in polyphenols and increases the number of good bacteria and decreases the number of bad bacteria in the body. So, people with certain gut-related and digestive tract problems should consume more foods containing polyphenols, and dark chocolate is one of them.
v. Using supplements.
We know diet and exercise are great ways to maintain and improve your gut health. But you can add another useful remedy to your lifestyle and call it a gut-friendly improvement. We are talking about supplements. Please note that only natural and safe supplements are taken into consideration. You can take a supplement that is meant for your gut health or prebiotics or probiotic supplements to target specific areas. Though these supplements are not meant for specific ailments such as inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut, or celiac disease, but these pills can surely safeguard and improve gut health, find out the Best 10 leaky gut supplements for gut health.
vi. Reducing stress factors.
No one wants to stress, but it is a habit that sets in and we feel stressed out with all kinds of issues, including trivial ones. But you can become proactive and work on your stress and fight against it. Finally, it all depends on your mind whether you take in all the stress or exhale it out. So, try out some stress-management, research-backed techniques such as meditation, going for nature walks, saying no and keeping boundaries, not spending too much time on social media, and avoiding being perfect in all areas.
vii. Resting enough
Rest does not mean six hours of sleep. There are different types of rest that a human receives. For example, spending time with your loved ones and not caring for project work is rest. Going on a phone detox is rest. Sleeping for 7-8 hours is rest. So, ensure that you rest enough and not feel guilty when you take a break for yourself or simply scroll down your mobile phone and call it a break. A healthy gut contributes to better digestive health and other emotional health benefits. So, take some rest and improve gut health.
viii. Starting to exercise.
Move your body – your gut health will thank you. Exercise makes your bowel movement easy, fights stress, releases endorphins and makes you happy, and lets your body release toxins in the best way possible. So, exercise daily or at least 4-5 days a week. Exercise doesn’t always mean lifting weights or doing 100 pushups a day. Do something that you like; it could be swimming or going on a walk in nature, you can also find more exercises from here!
How do processed foods affect the gut and overall health?
It is simple. If you consume healthy fats and foods, good bacteria are created in your body. But if you consume unhealthy and processed foods, then bad bacteria are created, and it tampers with your gut system and can also lead to bacterial infections. The processing of food changes its structure, also called a food matrix. The food properties change and it affects the changes that they bring to our health. All processed foods are not bad, but if you consume them daily and in excess, they will certainly result in health conditions such as a rise in blood glucose levels, obesity, and others. Hence, it is better to avoid processed foods as they aren’t healthy and definitely not recommended for our gut health.
Do these lifestyle changes or healthy habits need to be maintained lifelong?
Well, the answer to this question is obvious. If you want your gut to be healthy for a longer duration, then you must maintain these healthy lifestyle practices and habits for a longer time. But if you want to improve your gut for a short span (which is weird), you can make some changes to your diet and lifestyle and then quit them altogether.
Don’t consider these habits as disciplinary changes but as a healthy lifestyle. When you accept these changes and transform your identity as a diligent person who is conscious of your health, you will find implementing them becomes easy. But if you are too hard on yourself and try to force yourself into making these habit changes, then it is certainly not a sustainable thing, and you will lose the hang of it. Moreover, these habits restore gut health and anyone suffering from intestinal inflammation, metabolic diseases or other gut health issues should implement these changes willingly.
A balanced diet with high fiber foods, polyphenols and prebiotics, and probiotic supplements, exercising for physical and mental health – all these are essential to ensure good gut health. A balanced gut will ensure a healthy body and mind and it needs to be done for the long run and not short span, explore the diet plans for a healthy gut.
Conclusively, you can improve your gut health through conscious efforts and making the above habit changes. But before that, you can evaluate your current lifestyle and food intake, determine the faulty habits and replace them with the above healthy ones. Along with adding digestive superfoods, prebiotics and a probiotic supplement meant for improving gut health can also be considered.