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Digestive problems can develop at any age. They may include allergies such as gluten intolerance or conditions such as IBS. Looking after your gut can prevent these problems from taking hold or at the very least relieve the symptoms. Here are just five ways that you can keep your gut healthy.
Drinking lots of fluids is essential for keeping the gut healthy. Water is the healthiest drink you can have – we should all be drinking 8 glasses a day. Sugary drinks aren’t so good for the gut – if you’re constantly drinking juice or fizzy drinks throughout the day, it could be worth reducing your intake replacing some of these drinks with a glass of water. Even if you’ve got a bad case of the runs, it’s important to keep drinking fluids to keep your body from getting dehydrated, as your gut is likely to be passing liquid without letting your body absorb it.
Whilst unhealthy bacteria can be bad for our gut, there is also good bacteria found in probiotic foods that is essential for keeping our digestion healthy. Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut and goat’s cheese are all great probiotic foods to help get your fix of healthy bacteria.
There are also many supplements on the market for those that don’t like these foods. It’s possible to eat too many probiotics and end up with stomach cramps and diarrhea – you’ll know if this is the case. Be wary of taking antibiotics too often as these kill the healthy and unhealthy bacteria in your digestive tract, often leading to digestive problems.
Stay away from triggers
Many people have triggers that can cause digestive problems. These may be any kind of food and can result in mild to severe side effects. Dairy, wheat, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar are some of the most common triggers.
If you find such foods or drinks are causing digestive problems, you may want to consider limiting their consumption or even cutting them out altogether. Allergies can develop at any age and it can be difficult to pinpoint triggers at first – you may want to start a food diary. It’s common for pregnancy to develop triggers, but these will usually go away after pregnancy.
Know when to see a specialist
Certain conditions could require seeing your GP or even getting an appointment with some gastroenterologists. This could include cases of IBS, stomach pain or bleeding in which off-the-shelf medication has little impact. Don’t ignore these symptoms – in some cases they could get worse if not properly treated as with gallstones and infections.
Growing research shows that stress is bad for the gut. The stress hormone cortisol puts our body into fight or flight mode, focusing our body’s attention on processes that are needed for survival mode. Digestion is not seen as necessary for a survival situation and so it’s common to end up with digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea or bloating when under stress as the gut isn’t getting the neural signals it needs. Taking time to reduce stress, particularly before eating, can help to keep your digestion working as it should.