If diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain are plaguing you regularly, these are symptoms that you might be having issues with your gut health. Inside your ‘gut’, or your body’s gastrointestinal tract, different kinds of organisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and microbes can be found residing there. Most of these reside within the large intestine, and are responsible for the proper functioning of your immune system.
Let’s get into 5 common everyday mistakes affecting your gut that you should avoid for gut health improvement.
1) Lack of hydration
Since young, we’ve always been taught to remain well-hydrated throughout the day to stay healthy, and this truth has never changed. However as we grow older, a sedentary lifestyle may have led to neglect of drinking up, since we don’t “feel” thirsty as often.
As your body is made up of about 60 to 80 per cent water, it is imperative to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water for your gut to function effectively. Dehydration leads to the deterioration of the gut’s mucosal lining, which adversely impacts digestion.
2) Lack of sleep
Deprivation of sleep disrupts the balance of microbes in your gut, and also messes with your body’s internal clock. This can result in the release of cortisol, a hormone that is responsible for your body’s fight-or-flight response in the face of stress or threat. Cortisol affects the function of your gut, as the stomach releases fewer secretions to digest food.
Sleeping for fewer than the recommended 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night also causes the decrease of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut. When your gut’s bacterial genome is disturbed, it increases your cravings for food with high-sugar content.
3) Too much stress
In relation to the lack of sleep causing high levels of cortisol, too much stress or anxiety also increases the release of this “stress hormone” that suppresses your digestive system. Thus, you can imagine what putting yourself through constant stress does to your gut health!
4) Too much exercise
Since exercise is good for your overall health, can you ever exercise too much? Yes! Prolonged exercise, or overly intense exercise sessions, can again disrupt your hormonal levels and cause the secretion of cortisol. Bloating, acid reflux or diarrhea may result.
Over-exercise could even lead to a “leaky gut”, a phenomenon where toxins and bacteria “leak” through “cracks” in your intestines into the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammatory reactions in your body.
5) Too little sunlight
Most of us know that sunlight is a wonderful source of Vitamin D for our bodies, but perhaps less mentioned is studies finding that being exposed to sunlight also encourages a more healthy diversity of microbes in our gut.
Thus, spending long hours indoors every day and having too little time outdoors doing activities like walks or sports not only deprives you of essential vitamins in your body, but also negatively impacts your gut health.
So for gut health improvement, make an effort to avoid the above 5 common mistakes. Of course, if symptoms such as stomach aches or nausea continue to persist, you should consult a physician for further treatment.