We’re continuing our series of articles about Gut Health and its’ impact on your life.
Now, Gut Health is not something static as it can change according to your lifestyle, food choices, your age and many other factors.
Keep Calm and Keep Going
The project deadline is overdue. You are sitting in traffic way too long. The power is off again but your child must bring 50 cupcakes to school tomorrow. Sometimes everything is just too much.
Stress, in fact, has a huge impact on our gut health as many of us resort to smoking, drinking or overeating not realising how it affects our gut bacteria long term.
Stress is a normal body response to changes – they can be good or bad, our bodies don’t like them anyway because any changes are out of our comfort zone. During stress our bodies are filled with stress hormones and when it happens from time to time it could be good for your nervous system, but if the release of stress hormones is constant it fuels the inflammation process.
It is a proven fact that stress has a huge impact on gut diseases such as Crohn’s and Inflammatory bowel syndrome as stress hormones increase stomach acid levels, thus increasing the chances of heartburn or ulcer. We all need to find our individual ways to deal with stress otherwise it becomes so much more than that, progressing into diseases which doctors struggle to find treatments for.
If your body doesn’t get enough rest it releases cortisol as it would with any other stress, so the next thing you know – you are hungrier and angrier, your cravings for junk food and sweets skyrocket and you’ll probably try to calm yourself down with a glass or two in the evening.
Try to follow simple steps to increase the chances of falling and staying asleep naturally:
- Keep your bedroom neat and tidy, so you aren’t overwhelmed by clutter getting ready for bed
- Stay away from blue screens for at least couple of hours before bed – blue light in smartphones and laptops can affect your body natural clock and reduce melatonin production in the evening
- Keep a diary so you can completely unwind and relax, not thinking about tomorrow’s plans.
- No caffeine or alcohol for at least three hours before bed will increase your chances of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep for longer.
- Invent your own sleep routine – shower, good book, warm socks – whatever keeps you calm and happy.
Food for Thought
One glass too many, fried chicken for lunch, cake for dessert and a cigarette after dinner – if any of those sound too familiar, it is probably about time to re-think your choices, especially if you already got gut issues. Gut bacteria are very sensitive species and wrong diet may affect their population creating imbalance.
Fast food doesn’t provide enough nutrition for good gut bacteria to thrive, so typical fast food lover’s gut gets colonised with the “wrong” types which contribute to the disbalance at first and progress into diseases if diet doesn’t improve. So, lots of fresh veggies – try to make your week menu as colourful as possible, so your body gets all the necessary vitamins and minerals as it needs.
Introduce fermented food to your diet if you didn’t do it already – fermented food contains probiotics which are crucial for gut flora and help increase the quantity of “good guys”.
Some of great examples: sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir – they help balance the gut flora naturally.
Excess alcohol intake may also alter the gut microbiome, so it is better to stick to the doctors approved weekly limit (not all in one day though).
Our bodies designed to move but a lot of us are chained to their office desks for a great part of the day, it’s dinner and a movie at home on the couch, so it is hardly surprising we can’t fall asleep sometimes! It can be running, dancing or yoga – whatever keeps you moving and your body in a great shape – helps your gut function tremendously, naturally increasing your metabolism and serotonin levels thus increasing your gut digestive and other abilities not to mention keeping you in a great state of mind. Stay healthy and enjoy your life!