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A Healthy Gut For A Happy, Healthy You

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Your gut is linked to nearly every facet of your health, from your immune system to your mood. It is like a separate organism, with its own immune system and nervous system. People often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs”; however, we actually have billions of good and bad bacteria that live in our digestive system. In totality, these are known as our "gut microbiome".

The microbiome is affected by all sorts of variables, including your diet, exercise routine, and even genetics. A healthy gut can keep you in good shape, while a troubled one can make you sick.

So, how do you know if you have a healthy gut?

Signs of good gut health.

Everybody is different, however, it is considered normal to pass a stool between three times a day and three times per week. Very slow or very fast transit time can indicate something isn't right with your digestion. Stools should be medium to dark brown, smooth, sausage-like, and be passed without pain, excessive bloating, or gas.

Signs of bad gut health.

“You may be surprised to know that gastrointestinal disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affect nearly 430,000 Malaysians. So it’s a lot more common than we think,” says Dr. Radzi, who is also chairman of the Digestive Health Advisory Board (DHAB). The signs of bad gut health include bloating, loose stools, constipation, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting; whereas less obvious signs include poor sleep, skin irritation, and bad breath.

How can we improve our gut health?

With all the hype surrounding gut health, separating fact and fiction can be confusing. That's why we've asked the experts what are the fundamental ways to improve gut health.

Commit to regular aerobic exercise. Cardiovascular exercise, such as running and cycling; keeps your gut healthy. Plus, it also boosts your heart health. Regular cardiovascular exercise can help keep your gut microbiome healthy and improve irregular bowel movements.

Reduce stress levels. Stress isn’t just mental. It can also impact the health of your gut. Experts in gut health often refer to the “gut-brain connection,” and we know that stress is connected with mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

Log plenty of sleep. In addition to the mental benefits of getting enough sleep, it can also positively affect your gut health. Experts deem that sleep deprivation can lead to changes in your gut microbiome, while sleep (or lack thereof) can also affect the foods you choose to eat the next day.

Eat fiber-rich and probiotic-packed foods. Fiber is a nutrient found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It reduces the risk of metabolic diseases by stimulating the growth and diversity of good bacteria in the gut. Fiber-rich foods include sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, carrots, and fennel. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are also prized for their gut-boosting abilities thanks to the presence of probiotics.

Increase your intake of probiotics. In addition to incorporating more yogurt or fermented foods into your diet, some people may seek a probiotic supplement in hopes of balancing gut bacteria. Probiotic supplements containing bacteria and yeast provide a boost to the microbiota, which helps restore digestive health.

Your gut is the gateway to good health!

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