Ever heard the phrase, “I had a gut feeling?” Our gut affects more than just our digestive system. It has a direct impact on our mood, energy levels, immunity, skin, hair and nails. No wonder then that’s it’s known as the second brain.
Eat Fermented Foods in Moderation: Probiotics are live microorganisms that help create a balance of healthy gut bacteria in the stomach. They can be taken in the form of supplements or fermented foods such as kimchi, kombucha, yogurt and our good old Indian kanji. They help people with IBS, ulcerative colitis and acid reflux. Fermented foods also help improve immunity, promote healthy weight loss and naturally curb body odor. Keep in mind that excessive intake of fermented foods may aggravate your pitta, and cause overheating and/or inflammation.
Get Enough Shut-Eye: When our circadian rhythm is disrupted and we don’t get enough sleep, it has a negative impact on our gut health. There’s a direct correlation between insomnia and GERD (also known as acid reflux). Ever noticed a sour taste in the mouth when you haven’t slept properly or at all? That is a sign of your stomach acid rising up and making your mouth acidic. The better you sleep, the more useful it is for the body (and not just your gut) as sleep is the time when your body and mind rest and recover. Getting good quality sleep is particularly important for the Vata and Pitta types, who tend to sleep lightly, and have a tendency to develop digestive issues.
Keeping Your Stress Levels In Check: There’s a reason our gut is called, “the second brain.” A big exam or presentation can make us nauseous or make us lose our appetite. When we experience stress, the brain sends signals to the gut immune cells that release chemicals leading to inflammation, which can cause food sensitivities and malabsorption of nutrients in the body. By keeping our stress levels in check through meditation and therapy, we can ensure that our digestive system functions efficiently. If you’re a Vata or Pitta type, you ought to be particularly careful of this as excessive Vata can cause anxiety and restlessness, and excessive Pitta can lead to aggression and irritability.
Avoid Drinking Water Right Before Or After Meals: Ayurveda advices against drinking water in between meals or after a meal. Reason being when you keep a healthy digestive fire, known as the ‘Jatharagni’ within the body, you are able to not only digest your food properly but also digest thoughts with ease. To maintain a healthy digestive fire, do not drink water right before or after a meal as it tends to extinguish the Jatharagni, and can create problems with digestion.
Exercise: We all know that exercise is great for our mental and physical health. It helps keep inflammation down and produces happy hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. Exercise is especially useful if you’re a Kapha type, and have a tendency to be lazy and gain weight easily. Regular exercise also impacts our bowel health and improves the healthy microbes in the gut. Start with low-impact exercises and take it one day at time. Your mind and gut will thank you for it!