Welcome to post #4, the FINAL in my 4-part Gut Health series! I honored colon cancer awareness month by sharing updated information regarding nutrition and food for a healthy colon. Find post #1 (Gut Health Post #1: The Ins & Outs) here; and post #2 A Happy Gut is a Happy Life here and post #3 (Gut Health Post #3: Feel as Good as it Tastes!) here!
[FYI I presented an hour long webinar discussing this topic, and you can find the recording and suggested resources here: www.cancerdietitian.com/guthealth.]
Today’s topic lays out specific habits that help maintain good gut health. Let’s get to it!
Reading information is easy. We digest it (pun intended!!), and we can absorb it if we choose to, however it is ultimately up to us what we choose to utilize in our daily habits. You might be feeling overwhelmed by all the information given so far, so how about we break it down together!
Why is Gut Health Important?
Your gut microbiome plays a vital role in more than just one area of your life; it impacts both your mental health and your physical health, in fact, numerous diseases are associated with changes within the gut microbiome. As we begin to wrap things up, remember that a healthy gut is determined by diversity (of gut microbes), disease (lack thereof), and digestive abilities.
Diet & Gut Health Key Points:
- maintain good intake of both probiotics and prebiotics
- prebiotics and probiotics foster a diverse ecosystem of bacteria in the gut (refer to Post #2 of this series, ‘A Happy Gut is a Happy Life,’ to see a list of all the benefits)
- carbohydrates are essential to altering the intestinal environment
- carbohydrates are a nutrient source for your body and also your gut bacteria, they provide energy and promote a healthy gut
- fiber is your friend! Dietary fiber promotes regular bowel movements.
Here are some easy substitutions that help incorporate fiber into your diet:
Note that many processed foods are made from carbohydrate sources, but the fiber is removed in the processing. Not helpful!! This is why we recommend 100 % whole grains when possible.
A healthy gut coincides with a healthy digestive system. Below is a list of 7 tips you can easily incorporate into your daily routines to prevent and manage constipation.
- Physical activity:
Aim for at least 30 minutes total for the day (get up and move 2-3 minute for every hour of the day that you are awake).
At least 64 ounces of water each day.
- Regular meals and snacks:
Eating at about the same time each day helps regulate the GI tract. It’s also good for blood sugar management and providing a regular source of energy!
- Have a high fiber breakfast:
Choose a cereal or healthy granola with nuts that provides at least 5g of fiber each morning.
Eat 2-3 dried prunes a day.
- Fruits & Vegetables:
Eat 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables (combined) a day for optimal bowel health.
- Beans, nuts & seeds:
Have a serving of beans, nuts or seeds every day.
For more information on enhancing your bowel health, check out this blog… https://cancerdietitian.com/2018/11/simple-choices-each-day-can-enhance-bowel-health.html
Although bowel movements may not be a good conversation starter, I’ll let it be this conversation conclusion!
Monitor your bowel movements (yes, I meant to say that -> keep a poop log!). Your bowel movements tell your own unique story; what might be normal for you might be unusual for the other. The purpose of monitoring your own bowel habits is so that you can recognize when there’s change and how to address that change, whether that be making simple adjustments or taking it a bit further and seeking expert help.
-Julie & The Interns