4 Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Gut Health
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. As its name implies, it happens when there is an overgrowth of bacteria, usually coliform, in the small intestine. This abundance of bacteria in the gut upsets the balance of the microorganisms that usually maintain healthy digestion. This imbalance leads to a variety of digestive problems like abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas, and diarrhea.
To alleviate these symptoms, maintaining a healthy gut is crucial. While a lot of factors that affect gut health are outside of your control, like genetics and psychological situation, there are some changes you can do to foster positive gut health. One of these is through making signficant lifestyle changes that support gut health.
What Are the Changes You Can Make to Take Care of Your Gut Health?
Eating a Healthy Diet
Because SIBO is closely associated with digestive problems, it follows that making the necessary dietary changes should help you manage your symptoms better. For instance, certain carbohydrate groups are known to irritate the gut when eaten, especially in sizable quantities, so these should be avoided. This is specifically why there are diets called low-FODMAP and Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which focus on limiting certain carbohydrates from your meals to avoid triggering your digestive problems. To be more specific, you should be mindful of consuming fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols–the FODMAP in low-FODMAP, which are sugars that the small intestine has trouble breaking down.
It’s important to note that making dietary changes doesn’t just mean limiting certain foods from your diet, but it can also mean eating more of something that your body might lack. SIBO patients benefit from increasing fiber intake and adding probiotic-rich foods to their diet. The key to a successful SIBO diet is eating a nutrient-dense meal, keeping track of your food triggers, and avoiding such triggers. Our bodies are not the same, so some might not respond well to SIBO diets. It would be best to consult a doctor before going on them.
Getting Regular Exercise
Excercise can strengthen your bones and muscles, help you maintain a healthy weight, increase your ability to carry out daily tasks, and improve your cognitive health. Not only that, but studies show that getting regular exercise is specifically beneficial to SIBO patients. Regular exercise allows more oxygen to reach the brain and the bloodstream, which then raises the body’s core temperature, and redistributes blood flow. These conditions are reportedly great for the bacteria in our microbiomes to flourish.
Specific types of exercise you can try out include yoga, cycling, low-impact strength training, and walking. For those who have digestive problems, low-intensity exercise works best. These workouts help stimulate bowel movement and lower the chances of developing constipation. Moreover, these can lessen gastrointestinal tract inflammation. If you’re absolutely new to working out, you can start with beginner workouts like walking and yoga to get the hang of things. What’s important is you’re able to establish an exercise routine that’s best for you.
Stress triggers the fight-or-flight response and directly affects the digestive system. Stress can lead to esophagus spasms, indigestion, acid reflux, nausea, and diarrhea or constipation, to name a few. When you’re stressed, your central nervous system and parts of your digestive system enter into a feedback loop of stress and anxiety, aggravating your SIBO symptoms.
Manage your body’s response to stressful stimuli by actively participating in stress-reducing activities for digestive health like meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness practices. All of these activities help calm your mind and redirect your focus to something more grounding. Once your thoughts have stopped racing, you’ll find that you’re in a reduced state of stress than you were moments before. Studies have shown that consistently engaging in these stress-reducing activities teachers your body the better, more calm way of dealing with stress–instead of just going into overdrive and triggering all of your SIBO symptoms. Meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness exercises don’t take too long to do, so setting aside 10 minutes of your day to them is enough.
Getting Enough Sleep
Not getting enough rest triggers alot of the body’s known stressors. When you’re sleep deprived and exhausted, you’re more prone to feeling stressed and anxious, leading to digestive issues like stomach pains and diarrhea. Additionally, studies show that gut microbiome diversity is directly linked to sleep physiology.
Because of the correlation between sleep and gut health, the amount of sleep you get directly impacts your digestive system. It follows that a good night’s rest can improve your cognition and result in better conditions in your gut. Doctors say that the average adult should get at least 7 hours of sleep everyday, so you should strive to achieve this. Establish a consistent sleep routine to train your body to know when to rest. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to avoid certain behaviors that keep your brain active, like scrolling through social media on your phone with the brightness all the way up, before going to bed.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes Today
Taking care of your gut health is essential for overall well-being. Incorporating the four lifestyle changes mentioned in this article, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress reduction, and sufficient sleep, can significantly improve gut health. By making these changes, you can boost your immune system, improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and prevent chronic diseases. Remember to be consistent with these lifestyle changes and give your body time to adapt. With patience and perseverance, you can achieve a healthier gut and enjoy a more vibrant and fulfilling life.