Gut health is an important aspect of our overall health. It is closely connected to every part of our body - brain, heart, skin and more. Thus, it is important to keep our gut healthy as it serves as a foundation of our overall health. However, what exactly does our gut need to be healthy?
Fibre and probiotics are essential nutrients that can enhance gut health. Fibre is important for gut health as it helps to increase stool bulk and promote regular bowel movements, reducing the amount of time taken for waste to move through our intestines¹. This reduces the chances of constipation. Fibre also has a key role in keeping our gut microbiota diverse², which is important as those with low diversity of gut microbiota are frequently connected to various diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases(IBD)³. Fibre can be found in many vegetables & fruits such as broccoli and banana.
Probiotics are widely known to enhance gut health by suppressing the growth of bad bacteria and enhancing the growth of good bacteria. This helps to restore balance to the gut microbiota and aid digestion of food. You can obtain probiotics from health supplements such as Pro-Gut™. Pro-Gut™ contains 8 probiotic strains that are carefully formulated to help promote and maintain a healthy balance of digestive flora. Additionally, Pro-Gut™ also contains a prebiotic - inulin - which helps probiotics better thrive in the gut environment, thus enhancing their health benefits.
Therefore, it is ideal if one incorporates more fibre and probiotics into their diet.
On the other hand, you should try to avoid foods that can potentially irritate your gut, such as those high in sugars. Having a high sugar intake can disrupt your intestinal walls and make them more vulnerable to gastrointestinal infections. It can also disrupt the gut microbiota and result in dysbiosis, an imbalance in your gut microbiota⁴. This can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea and fatigue.
Dietary habits are not the only habits that impact our gut health. In fact, your habits and general lifestyle in general can exert a positive or negative impact on gut health, and this can be due to various factors ranging from exercise to even your stress levels.
Exercise has been shown to enrich the diversity of our gut microbiota and even stimulate an increase in good bacteria that provides protection against gastrointestinal disorders and colon cancer⁵. Besides improving our gut microbiota, exercise also helps to reduce constipation as it reduces the transit time our food takes to move through our intestines⁶. Long-term exercise also helps manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS), as a clinical study has shown that patients reporting lower severity of the symptoms they experienced⁷.
Keeping your stress levels in check is important for your gut to function well too. Remember the butterflies you feel in your stomach when you’re anxious? This sensation is due to the close connection our brain has with our gut. There are multiple complex pathways connecting our gut to the brain’s central nervous system where our signals and senses get processed. Therefore, when we feel stressed, the brain can send signals to the gut and induce intestinal distress. Likewise, cramps or discomfort in our gut can lead to signals being sent to the brain, making us feel stressed and uncomfortable. It is hence beneficial to control our mood and relieve stress.
There is more to maintaining the gut than just keeping up a good diet. Every habit can exert an effect on your gut. Overall, it’s best to maintain a health lifestyle by ensuring a good diet and regular exercise (which also helps to relieve stress). Even while eating, one can take note to remember to chew more and eat slowly in order not to overwhelm the gut with undigested food. Now that you know what your gut needs to be healthy, start making changes and take active steps to enhance your gut health! If you are already taking these useful steps, keep it up! Your gut will surely thank you for that.
Dahl, W.J. and Stewart, M.L. (2015). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 115(11), pp.1861–1870.
Cronin, P., Joyce, S.A., O’Toole, P.W. and O’Connor, E.M. (2021). Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients, [online] 13(5), p.1655.
Heiman, M.L. and Greenway, F.L. (2016). A healthy gastrointestinal microbiome is dependent on dietary diversity. Molecular Metabolism, 5(5), pp.317–320.
Arnone, D., Chabot, C., Heba, A.-C., Kökten, T., Caron, B., Hansmannel, F., Dreumont, N., Ananthakrishnan, A.N., Quilliot, D. and Peyrin-Biroulet, L. (2021). Sugars and Gastrointestinal Health. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology. [online]
Monda, V., Villano, I., Messina, A., Valenzano, A., Esposito, T., Moscatelli, F., Viggiano, A., Cibelli, G., Chieffi, S., Monda, M. and Messina, G. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, pp.1–8.
Oettlé, G.J. (1991). Effect of moderate exercise on bowel habit. Gut, [online] 32(8), pp.941–944. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1378967/ [Accessed 22 Oct. 2021].
Johannesson, E. (2015). Intervention to increase physical activity in irritable bowel syndrome shows long-term positive effects. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 21(2), p.600.
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