The types of foods you choose to eat and your general lifestyle choices – such as whether you exercise regularly or experience stress – are really important factors when it comes to maintaining your gut health. But there are some things you could be doing every single day of the week which would promote a healthier digestive system and all-round wellness.
The best part is, none of these daily rituals require you to learn new recipes and they’re certainly not too time-consuming to fit into your busy schedule either – they’re just simple healthy habits you can get into without even noticing.
EAT ON SCHEDULE
If there’s one thing your gut really doesn’t like, it’s being fed at different times every day – especially when your eating habits randomly alternate between hearty meals light snacks. Consuming food in this way puts your digestive system under a lot of stress which can result in symptoms like bloating an indigestion.
On the other hand, by eating breakfast lunch and dinner at the same time every day – spaced fairly equally apart – your body will be ready and prepared for when it’s time to eat and have enough time to properly digest your food.
Eating at irregular times has also been linked to weight gain. As this BBC Future article explains: Your body clock, metabolism and digestion interact in mysterious ways - meaning it’s not just what you eat, but when you eat, that matters.
DRINK WATER AND STAY HYDRATED
Water plays a crucial role in your digestive system, making sure food can easily pass through the digestive tract and ensuring nutrients can be property absorbed along the way. When you’re dehydrated however, stools become hardened which can lead to constipation and stomach cramps. After sleeping for several hours with no water intake, it’s wise to start the day with a generous glass of water to get things going before you have breakfast. Throughout the day, it’s recommended that men drink at least 2.6 litres of water every day while women should aim for 2.1 litres(1).
But managing your water intake also requires some common sense; any water lost through sweating, whether after exercise or in hot conditions, should be quickly replaced.
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
It’s recommended that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night(2). Believe it or not, getting plenty of sleep won’t just stop you from feeling tired and cranky throughout the day, but it could also improve your gut flora.
Specifically, a study found that irregular sleeping patterns can cause circadian disorganisation. Your circadian rhythm is your 24-hour internal clock that manages your brain and other bodily cycles.
Consequently, this circadian disorganisation can negatively impact your gut microbiota which has implications for several inflammatory diseases(3).
BRUSH YOUR TEETH
As the entry point to the rest of your body, your mouth is connected to your digestive tract. For this reason, a lot of research has been done around the potential interrelationship between the mouth and gut microbiome(4).
Unsurprisingly, although the studies are in their infancy, it’s thought that your mouth could be a potential source of harmful microbes which could cause a bacterial imbalance in the gut(5). So, you should always keep on top of your oral hygiene by flossing and brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
WALKING AND STRETCHING
It might not be realistic to engage in high intensity exercise every single day but walking and moving around is definitely something we could all do more of if we put our minds to it. Walking and general body movement, such as stretching, is said to improve digestion because it helps to get things shifting within your body too. Moving the body can lead to faster digestion – reducing the time it takes for food to travel through the body – which lessens the risks of bloating(6).
So, why not leave the car at home and walk to the station in future? And you should always consider taking the stairs instead of the lift.
If you’re thinking about making some lifestyle changes to take better care of your gut, there are plenty of things you can do to make a difference. But never underestimate the importance of the small things – a few tweaks to your daily routine could start to make a real difference to your overall wellness without demanding much effort or thought.