The pandemic has changed a lot. Most people now pay attention to their bodies and are increasingly concerned about their health. Be it switching to a better diet or practicing a daily yoga routine, being healthy has become the “it thing”. Taking care of your gut health is the latest in a line of healthy practices.
In fact, improving gut health has been touted as the biggest trend of the year in this area. “In addition to restricting physical activity, eating habits and increasing stress, COVID-19 is also affecting our digestive system. Gut health can be directly linked to our immune system, mood, mental health and physical well-being,” said Adarsh Sharma from Patparganj, who previously suffered from ailments related to gut issues. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep your gut in check with some healthy alternatives.
heart of the matter
Functional medicine and health coach Smriti Kochar of Gurugram mentions how a person’s gut houses their entire immune system. “Our body is a networked machine. There are seven systems in our body and they all work together. If one of them is out of balance, the others will be affected as well.” Similarly, Gurugram-based nutritionist and founder of a wellness clinic called Nutriapt, Manpreet Kalra, adds: “Digestion takes place in the gut. That’s where the body absorbs all of its immunity.” Kalra likens the gut to a jug of water, explaining, “If the jug of water is dirty, then the water you drink from it is also unhealthy. In a healthy gut, all the nutrients ingested are enriching. That’s why it’s important to take care of it.”
Protect your gut
As the seat of digestion, the gut is filled with different types of bacteria – both good and bad. The food you eat therefore strengthens the bacteria. While healthy foods degrade the good bacteria, junk food boosts the bad. Gurugram’s Nutritionist and Wellness Coach, Silver Shetty, mentions the importance of addressing the gut issue first.
“Gut health affects everything from chronic arthritis to constipation to GERD reflux,” she mentions, adding that the best way to improve your gut is to avoid inflammatory foods as much as possible. All three practitioners talk about switching to fibrous carbohydrates like jowar (sorghum) and bajra (millet) and fats like ghee. Cottage cheese and other probiotic supplements, as well as fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables every day are essential.
Chandan Sharma from Bengaluru, who had suffered from Crohn’s disease, shares: “Many things had to change in my diet – switching to extra virgin coconut oil, eliminating gluten and dairy products except ghee, etc. Healthy fats and proteins were also added, to balance my diet. I had developed a fear of food because I thought it was bad for my body. After changing my diet, I can now eat more freely and sensibly.”
While Kochar shares that simple lifestyle changes like eating an early dinner (followed by a regular bedtime and 12-hour fast) along with a few dietary changes can help improve gut health, Kalra and Shetty add that a few simple exercises do also can be beneficial. Stressing the importance of gut health, Sharma concludes, “I like to say ‘we are what we eat, but more importantly, we are what we digest’. Everything starts with our stomach. We are only as healthy as our gut.”
FOLLOW A PLAN
1. It’s important to limit anti-inflammatory foods like fried and spicy foods.
2. Reduce heavy protein and crude fiber consumption. Instead, include more seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet.
3. Practice simple exercises like yoga.
4. Cut down on milk.