A healthy gut is a gateway to good health and wellness. You cannot even imagine how the trillions of bacteria living there can affect your health. Essentially, they need to be balanced to ensure that you stay disease-free. When the bad guys get to outnumber the good ones, you are bound to get sick. If you experience symptoms such as poor digestion, sluggishness, skin rashes, weight issues, and mental problems, you need to take your gut health seriously.
First things first, you should understand what really is causing the microbiome to lose its balance. While there are some environmental factors that may disrupt the balance, your lifestyle and habits could also be responsible. It is best to be aware of the habits that you need to avoid to keep your gut microbiome in great shape. Here are some habits that may be deteriorating your gut health.
Lack of diversity in diet
Without any doubt, your diet has a major impact on your gut health. As a rule, a rich, balanced and diverse diet is essential to keep things in order. The foods you eat nourish the good bacteria in your intestine and help them to thrive. So you would obviously want to eat the right kind of nutrients that promote the good guys in there. Ideally, you need to eat a mix of whole foods, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds to have a balanced gut flora profile. Not eating diverse foods is a habit that you should ditch. At the same time, you must avoid processed and high-sugar foods because they feed the bad bacteria.
Skipping your prebiotics and probiotics
Another food-related habit that can make or break your gut health is the regular intake of prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics refer to a type of fiber which is eliminated from the body undigested. Prebiotic foods such as oats, lentils, asparagus, onions, garlic and bananas play a vital role in promoting the growth of friendly gut bacteria. Probiotics, on the other hand, are fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut. Like prebiotic foods, probiotics also boost good bacteria. If you are not having enough of these foods, you are actually harming your gut.
Lack of exercise
Beyond an inappropriate diet, a sedentary lifestyle is another factor that may be responsible for poor gut health. If you are not exercising, you are depriving the digestive tract of its ability to eliminate the wastes. And the real answer to how to restore your gut health lies in the removal of toxins from there. When you exercise, the toxins get eliminated through sweat. Additionally, it keeps you regular and prevents constipation, which is another factor that can lead to an accumulation of toxins within your system. So if you have not been exercising lately, get up and get moving!
Though you may need antibiotics to treat certain infections, excessive use can be detrimental to your gut health. While these medicines can kill the disease-causing bacteria, they can destroy the good ones as well. The effect is usually short-term and the balance is restored in a few weeks. However, be warned if you are using antibiotics repeatedly because they can cause long-term alterations in your gut flora. While it may not be possible to avoid them always, you can look for herbal alternatives for minor ailments.
Surprisingly, stress can play a major role when it comes to keeping your gut microbiome in an optimal balance. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is harmful to the good bacteria that reside in your gut. Additionally, high-stress levels decrease the oxygen supply to your organs, which is another way they can harm your gut. If you stress out on little things, you should stop doing so. Rely on therapies such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing to keep stress at bay. Practicing mindfulness also helps.
Another habit that can damage your gut health extensively is the excessive intake of alcohol. When consumed on a regular basis, alcohol can be addictive and toxic for your body. Your digestive tract, in particular, is susceptible to the harmful impact of alcoholic drinks. All variants of alcohol, except for red wine, can destroy the good bacteria in the intestine and rapidly put the microbiome out of balance. Try to abstain or at least stick to moderation.
Now that you know all about the habits that can harm your gut health, you should focus on changing them sooner rather than later. Most of these lifestyle factors are easy to modify and the results that you will get can be amazing!