If your belly often feels unsettled, it could be a sign that something's not right. From inflammation to stomach bugs, gastrointestinal problems can lead to all sorts of troubles, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, rumbling and pain. While you should always see a doctor to rule out serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, you may be able to keep unwelcome symptoms at bay through your habits and choices. To help you manage your gut health, try these 7 tips to help it heal daily.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Your microbiome is the living world inside your gut, home to trillions of beneficial bacteria that help to keep your intestinal lining healthy so you can feel your best. Nutrition directly affects your microbiome, as healthy foods often contain prebiotics, or compounds that help favorable bacteria grow and stay alive. The more diverse those healthy bacteria are, the better.
Fruits, vegetables and high-fiber foods like oatmeal and beans can help give your gut what it needs to keep healthy bacteria, known as probiotics, in balance. In particular, garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas and leeks are all good choices for a healthy microbiome, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Limit your gut triggers.
Not everyone responds to foods in the same way. That's why it's important to watch your body's reaction to certain foods and limit the "gut triggers" that cause you to experience stomach discomfort or gas. Caffeine, sugar, junk food and fizzy drinks are all common gut triggers, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Even some healthy picks like beans and broccoli can cause stomach problems for some people, but don't let that stop you from eating fiber-rich legumes and veggies. Just try different options to find out what works for you.
Try probiotic foods.
You already have living probiotics inside your gut, but you can also get them from certain foods. Fermented products like yogurt or kefir often contain healthy bacteria that can support your gut's microbiome. Just be aware that pasteurization can kill off beneficial bacteria during food processing, so look for a label that says the product contains live cultures.
You likely know some of the benefits of quitting smoking, like improving heart health and reducing the risk of developing certain cancers, but cessation can also help your microbiome restore its mix of healthy bacteria. According to studies reported by the American Heart Association, smoking is associated with a decrease in diversity in the types of beneficial bacteria in your gut, which could impact gastrointestinal health and cardiovascular health. For this reason, quitting smoking is a great idea for anyone aiming to improve their overall health and especially their gut health.
Make time for physical activity.
Research presented in Experimental Physiology, a journal of The Physiological Society, suggests that the more you get your heart pumping, the more diverse your microbiome becomes. This translates into positive gut bacteria for your system, along with boosting your heart health and reducing your risk of developing certain chronic diseases.
Speak with your healthcare provider.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can impact your gastrointestinal health, so if you take a medication and experience gut troubles, let your doctor know, as there may be a relationship between the two. For example, the Food and Drug Administration advises that an upset stomach is a common side effect of some medications. Your provider may want to try switching your meds to see if something else would work better.
Because medications such as antibiotics can impact gut bacteria, some physicians suggest that their patients take probiotic supplements in addition to certain drugs to help reestablish those living organisms in the gut. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before you make any changes to your medication routine.
Get a good night's sleep.
While there's still a lot to learn about the links between the gut and the brain, Nova Southeastern University research suggests that poor sleep may lead to poor diversity of gut bacteria. Some scientists predict this may lead to us intentionally adjusting gut microbiome to impact sleep quality. However, that's a long way off, so you should still aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night based on the CDC recommendation for average adults.
Your gut does a lot of good — not just in digesting food, but also in regulating immune responses and supporting other critical bodily functions. So, take care of it, and if you think something may be wrong, see your doctor. In addition to helping you diagnose any possible underlying problems, your healthcare partner can also give you some tips on how to heal your gut in the long term.
Medical City Healthcare provides comprehensive emergency services across North Texas.
At Medical City Healthcare, we're dedicated to the care and improvement of human life. So, we hope you'll Take Care!