Gut health is a collective term that covers various aspects of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as promoting digestion, controlling the growth of normal intestinal microbiota, and benefiting a state of overall well-being. Unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles and other environmental factors can alter the activity of the human gut microbiota, which can impact our health in a negative way. Digestive system is also the seat for our immune system. The role and function of the digestive system is to run the metabolism, make vitamins and communicate with bodily functions to ensure a healthy gut. This whole process makes our digestive system the cornerstone of our health. It not just regulates the metabolism, but also the immune system, which safeguards from viral and bacterial infections.
How does the digestive system work?
The digestive process begins from the mouth where the ingested foods is chewed and mixed with saliva and is passed down to the esophagus and enters the stomach. In the stomach, the food gets mixed with the digestive juices and is converted to chyme (partially digested food). As the food gets digested, your body begins to absorb the nutrients. The digested food is then passed through the small and large intestine, and the remaining digestive material is passed into the colon and gets eliminated as stools. The microbes that live in the human GI tract, called as gut flora or microbiota, not only maintain the intestinal barrier but also have significant role in the functioning of the immune system.
For A Healthy Digestive System
When our digestive tract fails to run smoothly it leads to various digestive ailments, such as:
- Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Peptic ulcer
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Celiac disease
It is about finding the best, holistic balance in your lifestyle to keep yourself and your systems healthy. Here are some simple tips that can help in keeping your digestive tract healthy.
- Include more dietary fibre: According to a study, legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks have shown a positive impact on gut health5.
- Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated can improve digestion. A healthy adult needs 1.5 to 2 liters of non-caffeinated fluids per day to keep the system well-hydrated.
- Consume probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that improve or restore the gut flora. Major sources of probiotics are yogurt, kefir (a fermented milk drink which is similar to yogurt), raw apple cider vinegar, soy milk and dark chocolate.
- Exercise regularly: Healthy body weight is necessary to ward off digestive problems. Moderate exercise on a daily basis has shown to increase gut transit time by nearly 30%.
- Keep your stress levels down: The stress hormone (cortisol) directly affects your digestion by causing an imbalance in the gut bacteria. Practice stress-reducing activities on a regular basis.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation and impaired sleep quality have been associated with poor digestive health. Maintain a regular sleep-wake pattern to improve bowel habits and overall gut health.
Ayurveda for better digestive health
According to Ayurveda, incomplete digestion and gastrointestinal problems occur because of a diminished “Agni”. Agni is the biological digestive fire in our body which is responsible for all the digestive processes. Diminished Agni can lead to a buildup of Ama, or toxic accumulation which ultimately contributes to various diseases.
Some ayurvedic practices for gut health are as follows:
- Start your day with lukewarm water
- Chew your food properly
- Practice yoga nidra
- Get eight hours of sleep
- Take a walk after meals
The best way to keep your digestive system healthy is to make the right food choices and lifestyle modifications so, that your digestive system will help you stay in perfect health. For the same, ayurvedic tonics like Zandu Pancharishtra are great digestive boosters, which work towards keeping the entire digestive system healthy.
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