GUT HEALTH: Factors Contributing To Poor Digestive Health

Gut Health is the key to long term good health. It is important to address the digestive health

Dr. Loveleena Nadir, Rosewalk hospital

Gut Health is the key to long term good health. It is important to address the digestive health, today, as more and more people are suffering from gaseous distension, bloating, abdominal pain, heartburn, diarrhoea and constipation.

Factors contributing to poor digestive health are:

  •  Age
  •  Altered Meal timings
  •  Consumption of processed foods and sugars
  •  Sedentary and inactive lifestyles

Modern diets and medications, which disturb the intestinal bacterial colonies and the human microbiome.

Microbiome is a stable community of close to 14 trillion bacteria in and on our bodies. Humans have 23000 genes that determine the cellular function in combination with approximately a million genes from over 1000 species of bacteria in our microbiome. Microbiome varies in different people and everyone posses their own particular microbiome depending on the diet they consume. Healthy microbiome supports healthy immune function and metabolism.

Improvement in gut health can be undertaken by switching to a plant based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and by limiting processed foods and animal origin products.

Probiotics can be a beneficial addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Probiotics assist body’s naturally occurring gut microbiota.

Probiotics are living microorganisms including certain bacteria and yeasts that administered in adequate quantities will help improve gut health, reduce bloating as well as help regulate bowel movement. Probiotics are found in yogurt, dietary supplements and fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso, temphe, pickles and sourdough bread.

Many dishes in the south Indian cuisine are rich sources of probiotics. These include Butter milk, dosas, appam, dhokla, uttapam all of which are all made by fermenting rice and dals, thus making them rich in live cultures of the good bacteria. Idli, like most other fermented foods, is rich in probiotics.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are indigestible carbohydrates that feed the healthy gut bacteria, already existing. This includes chicory root, garlic, onions, bananas, barley, oats and asparagus.

Postbiotics are substances made by the bacteria in the gut from prebiotics and aid cellular function.

Fiber is a great contributor to improve gut function. Of the two predominant types of fibres in our food, the soluble type is found in fruits, vegetables and beans etc and gets digested by the gut bacteria to support the growth of health bacteria, which in turn produce Postbiotics.

One needs to ingest 25 to 40 grams of fiber in our food every day.

With summer in full swing, staying hydrated is vital. Water plays a key role in the digestive processes and gut health. Digestion, nutrient absorption, transport of nutrients, elimination of waste products, regulation of body temperature and maintenance of healthy gut microbiome all depend on adequate hydration. It is desirable to consume 1 liter of water for every 20 kilo body weight in a healthy adult.

To sum up ways to improve gut health are:

1. Eat the right foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables

2. Get adequate sleep

3. Exercise regularly

4. Relaxation therapies to reduce stress

5. Consume supplements and probiotics.

6. Have fiber rich diet

7. Stay hydrated











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