A healthy microbiome is key to living a healthy life. When it comes to gut health and the 5 lbs of bacteria that reside in your body, researchers continue to make discoveries about its connection to a variety of diseases and conditions, from anxiety and mood to obesity and IBS.
We tapped our friends at Onegevity to collaborate and weigh in on the matter.
Onegevity is working to help us all understand the microbiome better, by delivering science-based, consumer-friendly recommendations for customized nutrition, clinically-studied supplements and pre- and probiotics to improve health outcomes.
Today we’re visiting small habits that can often make their way into our normal routine, and how they can affect our gut health.
By asking yourself the following five questions, this could be what takes you into a healthier 2020!
5 Habits Affecting Your Gut Health
Ask Yourself These Questions
Question 1: “Am I a grazer?”
Grazers are people who eat small bites every time they walk by food, or many small meals rather than 3 distinct meals.
Grazers are the type to bring lunch to work and take all eight hours to finish it.
While there is science to support people eating throughout the day—for satiety, blood sugar maintenance, and weight maintenance reasons, the research is mixed on the best meal timing.
However, in certain people and under certain circumstances, grazers tend to have higher instances of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is noted by diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and bloating and is typically treated with antibiotics.
People who tend to eat on the 3-meals a day schedule allow their intestines time to perform a cleansing wave called migrating motor complex. This process moves food through the intestines, ultimately picking up bacteria in the small intestine before it has time to multiply and overgrow.
In those who have had SIBO or are at higher risk, consider your meal timing to reduce your risk and improve gut health.
Question 2: “Am I the first person finished at a meal?”
Even if you get your food last, are you are always the first one done?
Fast eating usually means you aren’t chewing food thoroughly—and is an often-overlooked aspect of healthy digestion. Properly chewing each bite of food is linked to better digestion, as well as nutrient absorption.
Mastication, or chewing food, is the first step of digestion.
Teeth rip and break food into smaller pieces, allowing it to better mix with important digestive enzymes in saliva. Chewing kickstarts the whole digestive process, signaling the brain to begin releasing enzymes from the pancreas so the small intestine is prepared for the food coming from your stomach.
The better digested your food is, the more nutrients your body will extract from it.
Bloating, cramps, gas, and indigestion may be a sign that you aren’t chewing your food as well as you should be.
How much time should you spend chewing each bite? It depends on the type and texture of the food. Aim to swallow food once your chewing has left it in a soft, smooth texture, like applesauce or thick soup.
Question 3: “Is my urine color dark yellow?”
Urine color is an easy indicator of hydration status. Dark yellow urine like apple juice means you need to drink more water.
You should aim to keep your stream color looking like at least as clear as light lemonade color.
Water is critical to the digestive process– it keeps food moving through the digestive tract and benefits the mucosal lining of the intestines. It also supports a healthy gut flora – the tiny microbes that live in the gut. These microbes support several essential functions in the body, including nutrient absorption, waste elimination, and immune function.
Poor hydration is a common cause of constipation.
Tip: Remember to drink up in winter months when you don’t notice your thirst or may not be sweating as much!
Question 4: “Am I irritable or on edge?”
Mood can be an indicator you’re under stress.
Stress can adversely impact your health in many ways, including your gut health.
Frequent high stress levels can alter the gut bacteria that play a role in mood. You may see decreases the beneficial types of bacteria in the gut, such as the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus bacteria species, or increases in the pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and Enterobacteria.
Stress can also alter the communication pathways between your gut and your brain, sending signals that can weaken gut immunity and motility.
If you tend to be stressed over the holiday season, here are WellnessFX’s 6 stress management tips that only take 10 minutes (or less).
Question 5: “Could I be getting better sleep?”
Poor sleep habits hinder the health of your gut, specifically the gut’s microbiome.
Some studies indicate that adults who have poor sleep quality also have less than an optimal gut microbiota.
To support the health of your gut, get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted, high-quality sleep every night.
If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, it could be helpful to start with uncovering if any of these 3 common daily habits are leading to your sleepless or restless nights.
Related reading: Ben Greenfield’s 5 Quick Tips For Proper Sleep
How WellnessFX and Onegevity Can Help
If you’re interested in improving your habits, a great place to start is with with blood and gut microbiome testing.
For instance, if you are a grazer or fast eating, try testing glucose, insulin, and HbA1c to see the effects diet is having on your blood sugar. If you said yes to being stressed, get your hs-CRP and cortisol measured.
The human gastrointestinal tract is a complex system that affects practically every other area of your health. You can also learn how your GI tract may be affected by your habits—or what may be causing your digestion, bloating, gas, cramps, or nausea—with an at-home microbiome test, Gutbio™ by Onegevity.
This will allow you to measure every microorganism in your gut including your levels of Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, and more. Your report will provide personalized recommendations for diet, supplementation, and lifestyle to improve the beneficial bacteria, so you can focus on adding good habits, maintaining a healthy gut, and improving overall health.
Knowing these data points and assessing the current state of your biochemistry and microbiome puts you in the driver’s seat.
Having a comprehensive picture of what your body is up to empowers your to fully understand the impact your habits are having on your overall health, and help inform you on what new habits to build. From there, it’s up to you to take action. 👉
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.