What’s Your Gut Feeling? Got A Healthy Gut?
Did you know that the gut is said to be our second brain? A healthy gut can significantly improve your mental and physical health.
You are what you eat, and you are also how your body processes what you eat. We are constantly learning something new about gut health because the gut controls much more than just breaking down food for nourishment. Gut health has been directly linked to various factors such as immunity, cancer, diabetes, and even emotional state.
If your heart and brain are responsible for feelings, have you wondered where the term gut feeling comes from? Your gut and brain are connected through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Some of these chemicals, such as serotonin, are produced in the gut (just FYI, serotonin is your happy hormone).
Now, the more you know about your gut, the better you can understand it and make it stronger if you wish to live a longer and healthier life.
The anatomy of the gut
To understand gut health, we should learn more about all that it’s made of. We realise that this is not a medical class, so we will keep it brief. Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract consists of 8 significant organs ―the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. Your GI tract's primary objective is to turn the food consumed into energy and expel the waste.
Your GI tract is home to about 100 trillion microbial cells, over 50 trillion bacteria of 5 main phyla, and around 30 trillion other microorganisms (you may feel you’re more microbes than human after this fact).
Now that you know you’re home to all these gut-dwelling creatures, read on to learn about how they affect your stomach and intestines as they convert and process all the food you consume, including junk food.
Why is your gut so important?
Your body reacts to the food you consume. Fill it with unhealthy food, and it will respond accordingly. The kind of food you consume has a direct effect on the populations of the microbes living in your GI tract.
How, you ask? Your gut is also their battleground, which means that the good and bad bacteria fight each other for resources. The kinds of food you eat decide which army you feed. The good bacteria help break down foods, absorb nutrients, and improve immunity, while the bad bacteria cause bloating and weaken the gut. So, whose side are you on?
Knowing how your body reacts and processes the food can help you make better choices that aid good health. Taking care of your gut results in an improved immune system, happier moods, and general well-being.
How to take better care of your gut?
There are several things you can do to nourish your gut. Here are a few steps you can take.
1. Include probiotics in your diet.
Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut. They nourish your body and fight off harmful bacteria. Nourishing your body with a diet rich in probiotics such as yoghurt, buttermilk, and paneer ensures that your immune system is fighting fit and replenished if you take antibiotics frequently. Fermented foods are a great source of probiotic cultures.
2. Have more fibre.
Fibre is beneficial to digestion and helps your body have regular bowel movements. Be sure to incorporate both soluble and insoluble fibres into your diet. You should also switch from processed grains like white rice to whole grains. Polished rice loses most of its fibre content by the time it arrives at your grocery shop. So, consuming more fibrous grains can help you meet the daily recommended 20 to 40 g of fibrous food for optimum results.
3. Reduce processed foods and load up on fruits and veggies instead.
A great way to nourish your gut health is by reducing or―better yet―avoiding processed foods such as sugary snacks and maida-based baked goods, which can cause inflammation in the lining of the GI tract. Reduce your gluten intake and consume a lot of fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits.
4. Be mindful of your water intake.
Remember to have enough water throughout the day. It aids digestion and helps the food move quickly through the GI tract.
Make sure you have at least 3 litres of water every day. The best way is to drink a litre of lukewarm water first thing in the morning to stimulate your bowels.
5. Quit smoking.
Smoking is terrible for your health, especially your gut health. It wreaks all kinds of havoc in your gut, often leading to ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux, and many other unhealthy gut issues.
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