The start of a new year usually brings on the pressure to better ourselves by setting big goals and creating big lifestyle changes. However, this can often feel overwhelming and before long, our good intentions get forgotten. The key to sustainable change is to introduce easy daily habits rather than a complete overhaul of your life. One way you can make a big impact on your general health and wellbeing this year is to implement daily healthy habits. Looking after the health of your gut may also have a ripple effect on your mental wellbeing, immunity and more.
Daily tips to improve gut health
Here are some daily tips for supporting a healthy gut that can be embraced without a lot of effort:
- Kickstart your morning with a glass of warm water and lemon juice to rehydrate your body and stimulate digestion. It’s best to drink this through a (reusable) straw, to protect your tooth enamel.
- Start and end the day with 10 minutes of yoga or meditation to help with stress relief. Managing stress is important for many aspects of your overall health, including your gut. Consistent stress can disrupt the composition of gut bacteria and promote gut bacterial imbalances.1 It can also contribute to uncomfortable digestive symptoms like bloating and affect your bowel motions. There are plenty of free or low-cost apps available to help you make this a daily ritual and effects will most likely be apparent within a matter of weeks.
- Add sauerkraut to your avocado toast, choose kombucha over soft drink, sip on miso soup for an afternoon pick me up and add kefir to a smoothie. These fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics and consuming them regularly may help support gut health.
- Intentionally introduce a different prebiotic source to your diet each day. Prebiotics help nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut and are naturally found in a variety of foods including bananas, garlic, leek, asparagus, beetroot, peas, snow peas, chickpeas, lentils, nectarines, white peaches, custard apples, grapefruit, dates and dried figs.2
- Eat pineapple or papaya before your biggest meal. Pineapple is rich in bromelain and papaya is a source of papain, enzymes that can help your body digest food and reduce digestive discomfort.
- Get moving regularly. Research shows that movement is actually medicine for your microbiome. Exercise can enhance the number of microbial species in the gut, enrich the microflora diversity and support the gut immune response.3 It can also stimulate the movement of waste through the digestive tract. Find a type of exercise that you enjoy and that you can fit into your daily schedule to help make it a sustainable habit. This could be a brisk walk, a jog, a hike, swim, bike ride, gym class, dancing, skipping or resistance training like reformer Pilates or lifting weights.
- Go to sleep by 10pm. It can be very tempting to stay up late binge-watching a tv series when the kids or housemates are in bed. However, early research is finding that sleep deprivation can lead to changes in gut microbial diversity and may therefore affect gut health.4 Interestingly, growing evidence suggests that the health of your gut microbiome can also influence sleep quality,4 potentially creating a vicious cycle.
- Try to eat more slowly. Eating more mindfully and chewing your food more thoroughly can help with the digestive process. This is best achieved by eating at a table rather than in the car or on the run and without the distraction of a screen.
- Consider a daily probiotic supplement. The benefits of taking a probiotic daily are numerous, from supporting general health and wellbeing and a healthy gut bacteria balance to relieving gas, bloating and digestive discomfort and restoring gut flora balance for skin health and hayfever relief. Inner Health has a broad range of probiotic supplements to suit your unique gut and body needs.
- How will you remember to take your probiotics for gut health each day and how will you know if it’s having an effect? Inner Health have Pep, a free 30-day subscription that helps you with daily reminders and practical advice. Pep features daily texts to remind you to take your probiotic, at whatever time works best for you and provides regular wellness check-ins so you can get a sense of how your body is responding to your new regimen over the course of a month. It also has easy-to-follow mindfulness exercises to help with stress relief and focus.
- Madison A et al, 2019, ‘Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota: human–bacteria interactions at the core of psychoneuroimmunology and nutrition’, Curr Opin Behav Sci, vol 28, pp 105-110
- Monash University 2023, Prebiotic diet FAQs, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, viewed 6 January 2023, <https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq#6>
- Monda V et al, 2017, ‘Exercise modifies the gut microbiota with positive health effects’, Oxid Med Cell Longev, vol 2017
- Smith RP, 2019, ‘Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans,’ PLoS One, vol 14, no 10