What lifestyle habits will keep your gut running nice and smoothly?
- Receiving adequate and undisturbed sleep (7+ hours of sleep) each night is crucial for a healthy gut. Poor sleep quality causes a reduction in the amount and variety of our beneficial gut bacteria. And, it is a two way street, as gut bacteria can regulate our sleep patterns in a variety of ways.
- Sleep hygiene is the foundation for good sleep, so apply the following guidelines:
- Commit to being asleep by 10pm the latest each night
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends, as much as possible
- Sleep in a completely dark room (I recommend either investing in black out curtains or an eye mask)
- Keep wi-fi out of the bedroom
- Avoid bright lights and electronics 1 hour before bed
- Have a relaxing environment for sleep and don’t rush to bed
- Maintain a cooler room temperature at nighttime (65-70 F)
- Stress, both physical and emotional, is one of the greatest underlying causes of chronic conditions. Feeling stressed for days on end causes cortisol levels to rise. Chronic high cortisol levels may change the amount and variation of your gut bacteria as well as increase harmful gut bacteria. Cortisol produces a state of low-grade inflammation that eventually can damage the gut lining, causing a “leaky gut” or ulcerations. Additionally, being in a sympathetic (stressed) state prevents effective nutrient absorption, especially during eating.
- Find a method that works for you to manage daily stress:
- Deep breathing
- Creative outlets (painting/playing an instrument)
- During the stress producing events, develop a resilient mindset and learn techniques to effectively restore a parasympathetic (calm) state so you are not keeping your body in a high stress state until you get home.
- Adequate water intake is needed for your bowels to move along at a regular rate and pass easily. Drinking half of your body weight in fluid ounces each day is needed to keep that gut in tip-top shape.
- Drinking the right kind of water, however, is just as essential. Invest in a high quality water filter for your home and avoid plastic water bottles as much as possible. I generally avoid reverse osmosis water filter systems, unless they have mineral enhancement built in or you are actively adding trace minerals to the water. Check out my post coming up on water filter systems!
- Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, daily exercise helps keep your bowel movements regular. Getting that heart rate up increases the diversity of your gut bacteria. How fascinating! Many cases of chronic constipation can be attributed to a lack of consistent movement.
- Find an exercise plan that works for you and one that you enjoy – whether it is a hiking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or a zumba class, stick with it and keep the good bugs happy and healthy.
Yours in health,