Did you know that occasionally bingeing on junk food is just as bad for your gut health as regularly having an unhealthy diet? According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of South Wales in Australia, intermittent exposure to unhealthy foods for even just a few days a week is enough to significantly cause harm to your gut health.
So don’t wait till it’s too late—break those unhealthy eating habits before they wreak havoc on your gut and overall health. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies to help you kick-start the process of getting your digestive system back in shape after unhealthy eating:
1.) Eat more probiotics.
The gastrointestinal (GI) tract contains a complex ecosystem of immune cells, epithelial cells (responsible for the absorption of nutrients), and resident “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Probiotics work by preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and bringing balance to your gut flora. Probiotics are live microorganisms that directly add to the healthy microbes in your gut.
Probiotics can be obtained from supplements, but you can also find excellent food sources thereof. These include the following:
While probiotics are generally safe for healthy people, it is vital to talk to your doctor, especially if you’re considering taking supplements. Some immunosuppressed people have been reported to have infections from probiotics. Your doctor can help you choose a good probiotic option and safely incorporate it into your diet.
2) Be active.
Studies have found that exercise makes the gut conducive to microbiota diversity—the wide array of microorganisms that thrive in your gut. Not having enough microbial diversity in your gut environment can put you at risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases.
Another study has also found that aerobic exercise increases gastrointestinal motility. When the contents of your GI tract move quickly, your risk of exposure to pathogens also reduces, and your stomach and small intestines are also able to better absorb nutrients.
The following are some of the simple exercises you can do to help ensure optimal gut health:
3.) Manage your stress.
Stress has significant effects on the digestive system, as it disrupts the connection between the brain and gut. This leads to a decrease in gastrointestinal motility and imbalance in the gut flora.
Stress may also suppress or increase your appetite, and sudden, unhealthy changes in your diet can disturb your gut flora, affect your mood, and trigger health issues.
To relieve stress and maintain a healthy digestive system, here are a few tips that may help:
- Practice meditation.
- Connect with someone.
- Do some deep breathing.
- Have enough sleep.
- Get healthy sun exposure.
- Ask for help from a professional.
- Make a list of your priorities.
- Set boundaries.
4.) Forget diet fads.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of diet trends, thinking they can help you lose weight: keto, paleo, Dukan, the list goes on. These diets tend to have a stringent list of foods that you can or cannot eat. Instead of obsessing over avoiding specific foods, just try to eat the right amount of healthy foods and build a habit out of it.
Consult your gastroenterologist or nutritionist for guidance on establishing a healthy diet plan. Seemingly healthy diets may result in health issues if they aren’t suited to your body. For example, certain foods cause irritable bowel syndrome in some people.
Digestive Care in Pennsylvania
If you suffer from digestive discomforts despite eating healthy, it may be time to visit us at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates for a thorough evaluation with one of our board-certified gastroenterologists. We pride ourselves on our expertise, over two decades of experience, and passion to deliver high-quality, comprehensive, and compassionate care for the full spectrum of gastrointestinal conditions—from simple to complex. We have a proven track record of helping scores of people in our community better manage their digestive health and live a good quality of life.
To schedule a consultation with one of our gastroenterologists, you can call us at (717) 245-2228 or request an appointment online.