One of the most common health problems, that generates other diseases and medical conditions, is a bad gut. When gut health deteriorates, it leads to intolerable cramps, diarrhea, disorders in the digestive system, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), leaky gut, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), constipation, bloating, and vomiting. These are also the symptoms of a deteriorating gut inflammation and disbalanced gut microbial composition. It can cause LGS (Leaky Gas Syndrome) and dysbiosis (it is a condition when the gut microbiota is imbalanced). These factors in turn affect the immune cells and overall immune health. And as proven by several scientific types of research, gut health is, directly and indirectly, connected to our nervous system, brain, muscles, and the energy forming elements in human health. Therefore, any gut problem or digestive health problem leads to a halt in the normal and healthy functions of all the other organs of the body.
Other than this, gut health problems may also lead to immune health problems, digestive system problems, mental health deterioration and diseases like Crohn’s disease, eczema, chronic pain, stress, energy loss, arthritis, cardiovascular health disorders and joint pain etc. After all, most health problems grow from the gut.
Here is a short summary of the various reports of scientific research conducted on gut health problems and its easiest remedies. It is important to find the best natural solutions to your problem alongside medicines. Here are all the ways you can do so.
- Nutrition deficiencies must be amended.
- Start a health improving exercise routine and stop sedentary behavior
- Heal your body with minerals, vitamins and fulfilling meals.
- Stop the consumption of health damaging substances.
It is super important that we pay close attention to these 4 factors that can change your health in multiple ways! It can improve your intestinal health, digestive system health, immune system health, cardiovascular health, blood circulation, muscle health, hormonal balance and reverses gut damage. However, there are several aspects to these as well. Like, does exercise really help balance the gut microbiome? Does yoga help benefit gut health alongside immunity and overall health?
How does exercise connect to the gut microbiome?
The health of the gut flora is very much dependent on what you eat, what nutrients you feed your gut microbiota with and how you choose your lifestyle that affects your body. Like if you are stressed or a regular user of alcohol, then it is bound to have a massive negative impact on the beneficial bacteria in the gut environment. And exercising helps rebuild the healthy environment for these healthy gut bacteria. This happens due to various reasons that have been discussed below. And researchers found out this interrelation between exercise and gut flora through several experiments conducted on both animals and human test subjects.
For example: A popular scientific research study proved that active rugby players had a way more evolved and diverse range of beneficial gut bacteria compared to those in the control groups. All of them that were compared side by side had the exact same build and health. The only constant difference was in their active physical movements. And enriched bacterial diversity links to good gut health, brain development and stronger immunity.
Best Exercises for Gut Health
1. Jogging, Brisk Walk or Long walks –
Long walks can improve your digestive tract health, physical health and gut health alike. It helps increase blood circulation and the level of oxygen increases in the blood. These are moderate exercises that have various positive effects on the gut microbiota as it regulates the bacteria forming the gut makeup.
- It also improves immune system health,
- Reduces bloating and constipation
- It also enables healthy bowel movement,
- Promotes healthy digestion and
- Boosts effective weight loss.
- Try walking for 15 minutes minimum after eating.
- Go jogging or brisk walking in the early morning or evening for about 30 minutes.
Here is a simple explanation of how walking helps the digestive process and gut health. Walking and jogging involve a full body jerking and makes the body move rhythmically. Therefore, it induces healthy blood circulation and digestion as the food moves through the digestive system painlessly and smoothly. Thus, reducing inflammation, cramps and indigestion. It reduces risks of type 2 diabetes and heart problems. It is highly recommended by doctors everywhere, that you take a walk after you eat and jog for about 15 to 20 minutes minimum every morning or evening for attaining these health benefits.
2. Cycling –
This is also another form of moderate exercise that can help you lose weight in a safe manner by increasing metabolic rates while reducing several gut health problems. Cycling also has low impact on your body which means it has almost negligible amount of injury risks to it. It is also beneficial as a good muscle workout and it helps with fitness and stamina building. It helps the immune system strengthen to fight against diseases and harmful bacteria’s in the body.
Furthermore, it also soothes inflammation and positively counters the problems of acid reflux. It is important to note that cycling for health benefits requires riding the bike in the correct position. Otherwise, it may lead to indigestion that can induce vomiting and back problems.
In conclusion, cycling helps in –
- Reducing collected fat in the body,
- De-bloating your stomach,
- Helps with digestion,
- Reduces acid reflux and
- Maintains a healthy microbiome.
- An average time span of 30 minutes of cycling is enough to achieve these health benefits.
3. Core exercises –
Core exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, and planks help strengthen the abdominal muscles and improve back muscles. Healthy abdominal muscles help the gut environment to be fresher and the bacteria more detoxified and diverse. Core exercises also help strengthen the intestinal walls and bowel movements. It also protects gut health from problems like gas, constipation, digestive system problems, and weight gain.
- Sit-ups, squats, and crunches can be done 30 times minimum or for about 5 – 10 minutes.
- 1- or 2-minutes planks and side planks should be done about an average number of 3 times in one exercise routine.
- Allotting 3-4 days a week for core exercises is highly recommended as it gives your body time to heal and re-energize.
4. Yoga –
Yoga influences the gut-brain axis to positively affect the whole body. It helps with maintaining gut health by reducing stress, anxiety, and other mental health anguishes. It heals the gut from digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammable bowel diseases. So, get your yoga mat laid and start practicing it regularly.
Try to include gentle yoga poses such as these in your routine for better gut health –
- Parsva Sukhasana (seated side bend)
- Apanasana (knees to chest)
- Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
- Dhanurasana (bow pose)
- Shavasana (corpse pose)
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated twist)
These yoga poses help in digestion, improve microbial diversity, boost gut health, and promote health benefits for all body parts.
- Every yoga pose has its own set of rules regarding the time it takes for them to work. However, if you are a busy person, we would recommend 30 minutes to 1 hour to be dedicated to yoga every day.
5. Aerobics –
Aerobics include physical activities like walking, swimming, bicycling, etc. All of these physical activities help in intaking more oxygen into the lungs, promoting better blood flow into the heart, muscles, and all the other organs of the body. Aerobic exercises help the blood vessels and capillaries to widen and accumulate more oxygen to deliver to the muscles and take away the wastes.
It also increases stamina, and strength and reduces fatigue. It helps clear the arteries, strengthens heart health, and protects the immune system from inflammatory diseases. Its importance in improving gut health is also remarkable as it contributes to sustaining the gut flora.
- All aerobic activities should not take anymore than 30 minutes on an average, every day, to show benefits.
- You can do these activities 3-4 times a week or so as well.
6. Martial Arts –
Martial arts are an exciting way of reaching peak physical performance as well as boosting your mental health. It enhances your physical and mental health by –
- Improving cardiovascular health,
- Promoting weight loss,
- Improving digestive tract health,
- Regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels,
- Promoting oxygenated blood circulation throughout the body and
- Boosting diversity and metabolic rates of the gut microbiome.
- 30 minutes is good enough to dedicate to practicing martial arts on a regular basis.
- Weekly or bi-weekly training in martial arts is effective as well.
Easy exercise routines that can be done at home
Here are the easiest routines that can keep your energy and oxygenated blood flowing consistently and naturally throughout your body all day long.
- Core exercises – Sit-ups, crunches, planks, etc.
- Lying down bicycle exercises.
- Squats and squat jumps
- Jumping ropes
- Low impact jumping jacks.
These exercise routines are simple and can be done at home at any time. It does not involve any extravagant workout machines and gym time. These are simple workouts that you can fit in your free time at home and get the best exercise benefits from them only by using an exercise mat.
Easy exercises for the elderly
All the above-discussed exercises are extremely healthy and easy to perform when it comes to healthy adults, teens, and kids. However, they may be physically impossible for old people and for those with arthritis or chronic joint pains. Yoga techniques that can promote relaxation and simple exercises are best suited for old people.
Here are 3 simple and gentle exercises for the elderly to achieve the same benefits:
1. Taichi –
Taichi is an ancient exercise devised for all ages. However, it suits the best for the elderly and for those who cannot perform long intense workouts. It is a deep breathing exercise that promotes stretching of the muscles and blood circulation. It has a low impact on the body’s energy and can be done regularly without getting overwhelmed. It also helps deal with chronic pain, arthritis, and joint pains.
2. Deep breathing exercises –
Simple meditating tactics can help you regain control of your health. Deep breathing exercise is closely linked with yoga and meditation. It improves your body’s oxygen concentration, immune system health, and digestion.
3. Walking and other simple aerobic exercises –
Such as simple dancing, swimming, biking, and hiking routines, that are not only joyful but extremely healthy as well. Walking even for 10 minutes regularly can help change your gut health for the better.
- Alongside, it also positively benefits muscle and bone health as well as Immune health.
- While simultaneously reducing risks of diabetes, heart problems, indigestion, constipation, and bloating.
Benefits of exercise
We know that exercise affects us in numerous positive ways. Like it helps balance the gut microbiome, boost digestive health, and improve the immune system, mental health as well the overall health of the body.
On the gut:
- Exercise helps enrich the gut microbiota by positively affecting the good bacteria in the gut, helps to eliminate toxins, helps improve digestion and influences the microbial diversity.
- Regular exercise influences energy homeostasis, regulates metabolism, and strengthens stomach muscles, which massively influences the gut microbial composition.
- Due to its influence on the gut microbiota, exercising can help get rid of risks and symptoms of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulosis (formations of sac-like bulges called diverticula in the colon), and leaky gut syndrome (a gut health problem and inflammatory diagnosable medical condition caused due to increased intestinal permeability).
- According to researchers, if exercise can be cultivated in the daily routines of a person from his early childhood years, then, it can increase the bacteroidetes. Bacteroidetes are composed of several pathogenic bacteria that play vital roles in sustaining the human gut microbiome.
- Exercise promotes anti-inflammatory properties in the digestive tract and promotes good digestive health.
- Several studies have concluded that exercise reduces the risks of chronic diseases and improves gut bacteria.
- Exercise boosts carbohydrate metabolism and short-chain fatty acid synthesis in the gut.
- Exercise helps strengthen the lining of intestinal walls and boosts the gut microbes in the gut and on the stomach muscles.
On the overall health
- Promotes an increase in health beneficial microbes that are closely connected to brain health. Thus, improving the quality and pace of neurodevelopment of a person.
- Regular working out can increase catecholamine levels. Catecholamine includes hormones such as testosterone. And an increase in catecholamine also makes the blood more vulnerable to clotting. Which helps the body in sustaining itself from damage by ensuring that you don’t bleed out.
- A regular routine of workouts may also help you promote brain power by reducing the risks of cognitive decline. It also influences memory, learning, and concentration. This happens due to the positive effects of exercise on the gut microbiota. Which in turn is a vital foundation behind neurodevelopment and brain functions.
- It helps develop your metabolism, stamina, and energy levels. This is caused due to various reasons. However, one of the main reasons is due to the fact that exercise increases the production of a bacteria called akkermansia in the body. Akkermansia plays an important role in developing metabolism and reducing risks of obesity.
- High rate of fitness level helps in the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid and butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate is vital for overall health development and is one of the three major short-chain fatty acids found in the gut.
- Exercise has a beneficial impact on our mental health and reduces anxiety, depression, stress, and sleep loss. It also helps improve mental alertness, undisturbed sleep, and positive mood.
- It helps in weight loss and combats obesity.
- Exercise can help reduce risks of health disorders such as – High blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
- It reduces the number of unhealthy triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood. This is caused due to various reasons such as overconsumption of starch-rich foods, alcohol, certain medications, and extra calories.
Why should you not over-exercise?
Exercise is good for your gut, immune health, brain health, digestive health, muscle and bone health, and physical strength building. However, over-exercising contributes nothing good to any of those avenues, especially too much HIIT or high-intensity workout. In fact, it leads to all of those harmful body damages that you have been trying to reduce in the first place. Such as –
Problems with over-exercising
- Studies show that over-exercising can cause the gut to increase intestinal permeability. Resulting in a leaky gut.
- It can lead to muscle injury, tissue, tendon, ligament damage and joint injuries.
- Overwhelming tiredness can cultivate depression, mental anguish, and insomnia.
- A noticeable dip in your daily performance. Your mental and physical activity performance decreases as you grow more tired.
- As your body gets more tired and vulnerable to damage, healing, and energy restoration starts taking more time.
- A condition called rhabdomyolysis can occur which puts your kidney to harm. This medical condition happens due to muscle damage from over-exercising. And when the bacteria and other substances from the damaged muscle tissues leak into the bloodstream, it leads to inflammation, discomfort, and cramps. Symptoms include brownish or reddish urine.
- Cardiovascular health disorders can also happen while over-exercising. One of the most common threats is strokes. That can happen when your body is reeling from high-impact exercise or training workouts.
- Aside from injuries and drop in energy, it can lead to immune health disorders which can cause several illnesses and diseases.
The best way to improve health alongside exercising – Following the right diet!
As discussed earlier, diet and nutrition play a huge role in controlling and sustaining the gut microbiome. If there is an imbalance in the nutrition intake of the body, then no amount of healing yoga or gut beneficial exercises can help the gastrointestinal health. So, here are some of the most healthful diet plans with mineral, vitamin, prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods.
- Fermented foods like kefir, fermented milk (yogurt), kimchi (fermented cabbage), miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, etc.
- Fiber-rich foods. Load up on dietary fiber foods like soluble fibers, insoluble fibers, prebiotic fibers, etc.
- Probiotic foods that help stimulate the increase in bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are the microorganisms found in the gut or in various foods that help with increasing the bacterial diversity among gut microbes.
- Prebiotic foods are food sources to the probiotic microbes found in the gut. It feeds nutrition to the beneficial bacteria and improves digestion.
- Eat colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a healthy diet of plant-based foods.
- Replace refined sugar with organic sweeteners like honey and maple syrups, etc.
- Replace alcoholic beverages and soda drinks with fruit smoothies and fresh juices.
- Foods rich in polyphenols are also immensely beneficial to gut bacteria. Example – cocoa, grapes, broccoli, blueberry, almonds, red wine, etc.
These foods help sustain the healthy gut bacteria by providing food to the microorganisms, detoxing the microbiome, cleansing the gut, and healing the intestinal cavity that causes leaky gut. It even helps you lose fat in a much more healthy and natural way especially belly fat. Make yourself a comfortable routine that you can follow easily all week long. Don’t overwork or over-exercise or include too many digestive superfoods in one diet plan. Distribute the meal plans to fit in equal amounts of fiber-rich foods, protein-rich foods, probiotic foods, prebiotic foods, multivitamins, and digestive superfood snacks like cocoa, nuts, dark chocolate, and kombucha, fruits, and gluten-free foods. Also read: [Meal Plans for Digestive Problems: Fill your plate with Nutritious and Delicious foods for a healthy gut!]
Foods to Strictly Avoid
Exclude the following foods, beverages, and habits from your diet plans for the ultimate benefit. Reasons for this are that these things may decrease the nutritional value of foods that you consume. Alongside that, they also contribute to chronic inflammation, digestive health disorders, increased intestinal permeability, heart health disorders, liver and kidney dysfunction etc.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Soda and soft drinks
- Refined sugar (including added flavors, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, etc.)
- Processed meats and red meats
- Fried foods
- Refined carbohydrates (like white breads, pastries, baked goods, etc.)
- Excessive caffeine
- Excessive antibiotics (they affect not just the bad bacteria but the good bacteria as well)
The health of an individual’s gut is influenced by many factors, including the foods that they eat, the amount and type of exercise that they get, and their general lifestyle habits. All of these factors play an important role in maintaining healthy gut function. So, make sure lead a well-balanced life and incorporate healthy habits so that you can gain the maximum benefits from your gut. Recommended: What Foods Should You avoid if You have Leaky Gut Syndrome? [Everything you need to know]
Sources linked :
Tim Koping (Medical M.Sc Physiology, Founder of Original Eating, and a Professor at a Leading Health Institute in the US): I am a medical M.Sc physiology graduate and the founder of Original Eating, an online resource that provides information and advice about healthy eating. I have a strong interest in health and nutrition, and I am passionate about helping people to eat well and live healthily. I have over 15 years of experience working in the health and nutrition industry, and I am dedicated to providing accurate, reliable information that can help people to make healthy choices for themselves. My work with Original Eating has been featured in publications such as Men’s Health and more, and I am frequently consulted by journalists for expert commentary on dietary issues. However, in my spare time, I also enjoy reading, hiking, and playing the guitar.