Heartburn And Bloating? 8 Tips To Promote Good Gut Health

Doctors and medical journals will tell you how important gut health is for your well-being. In fact, around 80 percent of your system is the gut, with its miniscule bacteria and yeast. This is why your gut plays a crucial role in your overall well-being since it is responsible for breaking down the food, absorbing the nutrients that are needed for the body to function on a day-to-day basis, and also excreting the toxins. These microbes in the gut, if weighed, would be as heavy as the brain, and here’s a fun fact: there are more bacteria in you than there are cells!

Imbalance in the “bad” and “good” bacteria causes indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, or bloating. This, in its severity, can impact heart health, cause allergies, and lead to autoimmune diseases as well. Your gut needs to be healthy, and our current lifestyle, especially in cities, poses a risk to its optimal health. But by making small changes to your lifestyle and diet, you can promote gut health.

1. Eat Probiotic Foods

Eating probiotic food is an easy way to boost gut health, fermented and pickled food are great probiotic-rich food. Take your idli and dosa with their fermented rice and lentil batter or yoghurt, which contains a good amount of "good" bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium. Chaach is another natural probiotic beverage that is good for your gut. Also, try and include pickled vegetables like carrots and cabbage (think achaar and kimchi), which are also probiotic when mostly handmade. 

2. Include Prebiotic Fibre

Prebiotic fibre is indigestible and nourishes the gut’s “good” bacteria to help them thrive. Good sources of prebiotic fibre found in Indian kitchens include oats, onions, garlic, apples, bananas, and legumes like chickpeas. Make sure to eat these foods along with probiotic yoghurt for maximum gut benefits. There are also health supplements available in the market that provide prebiotic fibre in tablet or powder form, typically dissolved in water and taken right before meals. 

3. Limit Processed Foods

This goes without saying; consuming any processed food rich in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats can affect the gut microbiome. Most of these foods lack fibre and nutrients. When possible, choose fresh, whole foods over packaged and fast foods, and opt for places that serve them. Home cooked food is the best; opt for more whole foods to cook or eat off the plate. Minimising processed items in your diet supports a healthy digestive system.

4. Stay Hydrated

Water is a great flushing agent, so, drinking enough water is essential for gut health. Water helps food and waste move smoothly through the digestive tract and prevents constipation. The physiology of the two sexes is different, so the water intake required is also different. Experts recommend at least 3.7 litres of water per day for men and 2.7 litres per day for women. 

5. Manage Stress 

High stress levels have a negative impact on digestion, which causes heartburn and bloating. And what happens inside is, the body produces more cortisol and other hormones that can damage the intestinal lining and microbiome. Try simple relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and spending time with friends and family to keep stress under control. Managing stress promotes gut and overall health.

6. Get Adequate Sleep

The body needs rest to recuperate so it can function at an optimal level. Cortisol levels tend to spike without adequate sleep. On average, 7-8 hours are recommended for adults, with women requiring slightly more sleep than men. In case sleeplessness or insomnia persists for you and no amount of Oddly Satisfying videos, Ambient music, or counting sheep can put you to sleep, please see a doctor.

7. Limit Alcohol Intake

While an occasional drink may be fine, regularly consuming too much alcohol can damage the gut lining over time and change the pH levels of the gut, promoting more harmful bacteria than beneficial ones. Alcohol can be dehydrating as well, which is another reason to limit intake. But it's best to avoid it completely for optimal digestive health. Go for hydrating drinks like water, lassi, and buttermilk instead. 

8. Quit Smoking

Your gut will reward you if you quit smoking. Each cigarette wreaks havoc on your microbiome, increasing "bad" bacteria while diversity takes a nosedive. All that tobacco smoke triggers inflammation too. Your digestive health will also be in jeopardy if you continue smoking. Do your gut a favour and put down the pack for good; your whole body will function better.

A healthy gut is essential for overall well-being. By incorporating probiotic foods, prebiotic fibre, limiting processed items and unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking, and managing stress, you can naturally support the growth of good gut bacteria. Make your gut health a priority with these easy tips.