Most of us try to pay heed to our fat and cholesterol levels to make sure that our heart and other organs remain healthy. But you would be amazed to know that the microorganisms present in our gut are also responsible for keeping these organs in good shape.
There are many ways for these microorganisms to get disrupted and damaged though. Taking care of your gut health means maintaining the delicate balance between the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi present in your digestive tract. So here are a few simple ways for you to keep your gut healthy:
1. Probiotics and prebiotics
The concept of prebiotics and probiotics may be confusing to many, but the fact remains that they're both beneficial for your gut. Prebiotics are the food items that promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut, whereas probiotics are 'live' good bacteria. Studies have concluded that the ingestion of probiotics helps in maintaining healthy gut microorganisms and also prevents gut inflammation and other intestinal problems. It has also been reported that prebiotics help probiotics to become more tolerant of the sudden change in the pH and temperature when they enter the body.
Fermented foods like curd, cheese and kimchi are a natural source of probiotics. Prebiotic-rich foods are asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions and whole grains.
You should consider taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements only after consulting with your doctor.
2. Sleep well
A proper sleeping pattern helps in improving the mood, cognitive ability of the brain and gut health. Various studies have revealed that people who are unable to get deep sleep are more prone to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
According to an animal study, irregular sleeping patterns or continuously disturbed sleep can damage the gut microflora, thus increasing the chances of developing an inflammatory condition.
You should try and sleep at the same time every day. Avoid using screens one hour before you go to bed as this will help you maintain your sleep cycle. Ideally, an adult should sleep for at least seven hours daily.
3. High fibre diet
A high-fibre diet is known to improve digestion and helps in maintaining proper gut microflora. Food items such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries and asparagus have a high amount of fibre in them and have been known to improve gut health.
4. Quit smoking
It is a known fact that smoking damages the tissues and cells of the lungs but it has also been seen that chronic smoking can damage the gut microbiome. Research on the subject states that if a person has been smoking for over 16 years, the gut microorganisms are not only damaged and decreased but it also gives rise to the harmful microorganisms. These harmful microorganisms can lead to intestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn's disease.
5. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
Though antibiotics are necessary for combatting many illnesses, overuse of these antibiotics can disrupt the gut microflora badly. In a study, it was seen that the use of unnecessary antibiotics (like for common cold) can damage the gut microbiota and impair its immunity. It was also reported that even six months after their use, the gut was still missing several species of good bacteria.
Doctors must give an alternative to antibiotics when they can and we should never take antibiotics without a doctor's recommendation.
This is the first part of a series on Gut Health.
For more information, read our article on Probiotics.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.