Known as the microbiome, your gut is made up of trillions of bacteria that impact how your body digests food, dispels waste, regulates your metabolism and much more. It’s important that you keep your gut as healthy as possible, and part of that is knowing what not to do. Let’s walk through some daily habits that might be compromising your gut health.
You’re Way Too Stressed
More and more studies suggest that emotional stressors can directly impact your gut bacteria, affecting the neurotransmitters in your brain… and vice versa! If you live a high-stress lifestyle (and let’s be real; it’s 2019—we all live a high stress lifestyle) here are some things you can do to decrease or manage the stress in your life.
- Look into meditation or yoga! Ease your way into practice by starting with an app, such as Headspace or Daily Yoga. Both of these practices, especially if done consistently, have been shown to offer practitioners both long- and short-term relief.
- Talk to your chiropractor about things you can do throughout the day that may help decrease your heart rate and increase your oxygen levels—whether that’s breathing exercises, stretching or other tips and tricks.
- Maybe it’s time to talk to someone—there’s no shame in investing in your mental health by talking to a therapist or counselor! Many offer in-person, online and text services on a sliding scale. Get started at psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.
You’re Eating Too Much Refined Sugar
Can’t help but reach for that soda at lunch or a sweet treat after dinner? You’re not alone. It’s estimated the average American eats around 130 pounds of sugar per year. Refined sugar has been linked to chronic disease, mood disorders and other health problems. It can also feed the bad bacteria in your gut—especially yeast. Reduce refined sugars gradually to avoid withdrawal.
You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
It’s estimated that a good 75 percent of US adults are chronically dehydrated—one of poor gut health’s most common instigators. Water makes it easier for waste to travel through your intestines, and without it, your body will soak up fluid from your stool, making it harder to pass. Staying well hydrated also benefits the lining of the intestines and encourages the growth of good bacteria. Here are some easy ways to up your water intake:
- Set hourly reminders on your phone to drink a glass of water—it will not only keep it at the forefront of your mind, but the repetition will make it easier to establish the habit.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you! Much of the time, what we eat or drink comes down to convenience. Make it easier to access water throughout your day with a BPA-free, reusable water bottle.
- Make it a group effort! Turn hydration into a game or competition with your co-workers, family or friends. This way you’re all accountable for your own daily intake and it can be a fun goal to work toward together.
You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep can play an important role in a healthy gut—in fact, studies suggest that lack of sleep not only affects the growth and death of bacteria in the gut but can also increase inflammation and insulin issues. Although each body is different, the average adult needs anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Establishing a nightly routine and unplugging all devices an hour before bed are both great steps for creating a better sleep schedule.