Stomach trouble can be one of the most frustrating and uncomfortable scenarios you can encounter. It may instill fear each time you eat or leave your home, making it difficult to truly enjoy your life.
Gut health is complex. But it might not be as difficult to handle as you may think. There are several contributors to gut health and function that you might not necessarily consider. Sometimes getting a handle on these seemingly unrelated factors can help.
It could be worthwhile to think of your gut as your second brain. After all, the two are closely related (you may have heard of the gut-brain axis). So, look at it this way: when your gut is happy, your brain may be too. And vice versa.
That’s why stress and sleep may be central to gut health. Both sleep and stress are associated with gut health, which may surprise you. After all, they have little to do with diet.
Stress can influence more than just food choices; it can impact how you digest and absorb nutrients. So, when you’re experiencing stress, it’s possible your gut bacteria aren’t getting what they need to function efficiently.
This could lead to an imbalance of unhealthy bacterial populations, which can lead to worse sleep. Less sleep can boost stress and cravings for unhealthy food, essentially fueling a dangerous cycle that can lead to indigestion and other gut-related issues.
Finding ways to manage stress, like exercise, meditation, yoga, tai-chi, or simply taking a break from social media may all help take care of your stomach issues.
Of course, your mental state is not the factor in gut health. As mentioned, the gut and its trillions of organisms are very complex. Other tactics to settle your stomach include:
- Eating mindfully and taking your time to enjoy and appreciate the value in the food you’re consuming
- Staying hydrated
- Getting 28-35 grams of fiber per day from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Identifying food intolerances
- Including probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and more into your diet.