Your gut does more than digest your food. The National Institutes of Health stresses that a healthy gut is essential for your overall health and wellbeing.
An ever-growing body of research shows that the collection of healthy bacteria in the gut, called the microbiota, plays an important role in several of the body’s functions, including immune function, inflammation, blood vessel formation, and nutrient absorption.
An imbalance of gut microbes can cause a range of gastrointestinal woes, including IBS, diarrhea, and constipation.
Many things can affect the health of your gut, including your stress level, quality of sleep, nutrition, and activity level. According to a GI expert at UCLA, a routine schedule lays the groundwork for healthy digestion and regular bowel movements, which are central to optimal health and a healthy gut.
Starting your day with a gut-friendly routine can help you achieve regularity and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms during the day.
Here’s how to get your gut going and set the stage for better digestive health each day.
1. Check in with yourself first thing
How you get out of bed sets the tone for the whole day. If you wake up in a panic and fly out of bed immediately upon waking, your stress level is going to be high, and your gut will suffer.
Try this instead… set your alarm so that you have five or 10 minutes upon waking to check in with yourself. How does your body feel? How does your mind feel? Look for tension and release it. Repeat a mantra like, “Today will be a good day” to get into a positive mindset. Slowly engage your muscles, stretch, and slide, ready and refreshed, out of bed.
After eight or more hours without water, your body–which is about 60 percent water–needs to be rehydrated. Drinking two glasses of water first thing helps to jump start your digestion and kick your metabolism into gear, and it can help get things moving in the lower bowels for morning regularity. It also helps to remove the toxins that build up during sleep.
For added benefits, squeeze the juice of half a lemon into your first glass of water.
3. Move your body.
Getting your body moving right out of bed helps to wake up your digestive system and your brain. Don’t worry–you don’t have to go to the gym or even exert all that much energy. A few slow, whole-body stretches, a couple of Sun Salutations, or three to five minutes of walking on the treadmill will do the trick.
4. Eat something.
Have a little something to eat. If you like a big breakfast, make it a healthy one that includes a balance of protein, fat, and carbs.
If you typically skip breakfast, try having a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit or a half slice of toast with avocado or peanut butter. Putting something in your stomach helps reduce its acidity and wakes up the digestive system, your metabolism, and your brain. A healthy breakfast is a crucial first step in starting your day off right.
5. Take a probiotic.
A daily probiotic replenishes the microbiota with healthy bacteria. For those who suffer from digestive problems, taking a probiotic each day can reduce symptoms and even make them disappear.
According to a study published in the journal Beneficial Microbes, when you take a probiotic is important. The best time, according to the study, is within 30 minutes of eating something, when stomach acid levels are lower, improving the survival rates of the microbes.
Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics contain 16 probiotic strains and 51 billion live probiotic cultures per serving, and the specially formulated capsules resist stomach acid.
Following a predictable and relaxed morning routine that focuses on your health and wellbeing will help kick your digestion into gear, and it’ll start your day on a low-stress note.
Once your day has begun, stay mindful of how your emotions and stress are affecting your body. When you feel particularly stressed or anxious, take a few minutes to do some deep breathing exercises. Chances are, you’ll see improvements in your gastrointestinal health and your regularity, which will help you maintain better overall health.