For that good gut feeling: How to have a healthy digestive system – Life News


How can we maintain good gut health on a daily basis? Dr Rakesh Gupta, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, says:  “Maintaining good gut health daily involves several key strategies. A diet rich in diverse plant-based foods, particularly high-fibre vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, promotes a healthy gut microbiome. These foods provide prebiotic fibre that nourishes beneficial bacteria.

Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi can introduce beneficial microbes. Staying hydrated is crucial for digestive health. Regular exercise can improve gut motility and diversity of gut bacteria. Managing stress through techniques like meditation or yoga can positively impact gut health, as the gut-brain axis plays a significant role. Adequate sleep is also essential, as disrupted sleep patterns can negatively affect gut bacteria. Limiting processed foods, excessive sugar, and artificial sweeteners is advisable, as these can disrupt the gut microbiome. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use helps preserve beneficial gut bacteria. Lastly, practicing good hygiene while not being overly sanitised allows for healthy microbial exposure. Consistency in these habits is key to maintaining optimal gut health over time.

Are probiotic drinks like Yakult etc beneficial or should we opt for natural things like curd?
Both probiotic drinks like Yakult and natural fermented foods like curd (yogurt) can be beneficial for gut health, but they have different advantages. Probiotic drinks often contain specific strains of beneficial bacteria in concentrated amounts, which can be helpful for targeting particular gut issues. However, these products may also contain added sugars or artificial ingredients. Natural fermented foods like curd, on the other hand, offer a wider variety of probiotic strains and additional nutritional benefits. Curd contains calcium, protein, and other nutrients alongside its probiotic content. It is also typically less processed and free from artificial additives.

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The live cultures in natural fermented foods may be more robust and better equipped to survive the digestive process. Ideally, a combination of both can be beneficial. Rotating different fermented foods and occasionally including quality probiotic drinks can provide a diverse array of beneficial bacteria. However, for daily consumption, natural fermented foods like curd are often recommended due to their broader nutritional profile and lack of additives.

When using antibiotics, how can we restore gut bacteria?
Restoring gut bacteria after antibiotic use requires a multifaceted approach. First, it is crucial to complete the prescribed antibiotic course as directed by your healthcare provider. Once finished, focus on replenishing beneficial bacteria. Consume a diverse range of fermented foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Probiotic supplements can also be beneficial, but consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate strains and dosages.

Equally important is consuming prebiotic foods that nourish beneficial bacteria, including garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and whole grains. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fibre supports overall gut health. Stay well-hydrated and consider bone broth, which may help heal the gut lining. Avoid processed foods, excess sugar, and alcohol, which can hinder gut recovery. Managing stress and getting adequate sleep also support gut health restoration. Remember that full recovery of gut flora can take weeks to months, so patience and consistency are key. Regular exercise can help promote a healthy gut microbiome.

Are there any foods that damage gut flora? Alcohol?
Several foods and substances can potentially damage gut flora. Alcohol, especially when consumed in excess, can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and harm the intestinal lining. Processed foods high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats can promote the growth of harmful bacteria while suppressing beneficial ones. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to negatively impact gut bacteria diversity. Emulsifiers found in processed foods may alter gut bacteria composition and promote inflammation. Excessive red meat consumption, particularly when charred, can introduce compounds that harm gut bacteria. Foods treated with pesticides or antibiotics may also disrupt the microbiome.

Frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can damage the gut lining and affect bacterial balance. While not a food, frequent antibiotic use significantly disrupts gut flora. Chlorinated water, if consumed regularly, affects gut bacteria. Moderate consumption of most foods is unlikely to cause significant harm, and a balanced, varied diet rich in plant-based foods generally supports a healthy gut microbiome.


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