Simple Steps You Can Take Each Morning to Improve Your Gut Health
Good health starts in our gut. The bacteria in our gut have so many critical functions like digesting food, synthesizing vitamins, metabolizing drugs, detoxifing carcinogens, helping with cell renewel, and supporting the immune system. Research shows that an imbalance in gut microbes is linked with chronic diseases such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, and atherosclerosis,* so it’s extremely important to focus on our gut health. Below are a few simple things you can incorporate into your routine each morning to improve your gut and overall health.
If it isn’t already, taking a daily probiotic supplements should be a part of your morning routine. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can maintain and restore the good microorganisms in our gut. In general, you should look for a multi-strain probiotic with at least 2 billion CFU. Certain strains are more appropriate for specific conditions, so talk to you doctor if you have questions.
Not only is exercise a great way to stimulate digestion and get things moving in the morning, but it also reduces stress, which can have a significant impact on your gut. Stress can negatively affect the composition of our gut microbes. Not surprisingly, stress-related conditions including anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have been associated with an imbalance of gut microbes.
3. High Fiber Breakfast
Fiber is essential to both our digestive and overall health. Adequate fiber has been shown to reduce risk of gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, hypertension, and certain cancers. Unfortunately, only about 5% of Americans are getting enough fiber.** The best sources of fiber are whole grains like barley, oats, and bulgur, dark colored vegetables, berries, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try your morning smoothie or oatmeal with chia seeds and berries for a high fiber breakfast that will keep you feeling full and focused.
*Shreiner AB, Kao JY, Young VB. The gut microbiome in health and in disease. Current opinion in gastroenterology. 2015;31(1):69-75. doi:10.1097/MOG.0000000000000139.
**Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing America's Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;11(1):80–85. Published 2016 Jul 7. doi:10.1177/1559827615588079.