Good gut health improves absorption of nutrients, decreases flatulence, keeps good bowel movements, all of which helps in your fitness goals. Also, intestinal irritation (or distention) caused by flatulence, constipation or food sensitivities can manifest in abdominal and/or back pain (believe me, I’ve been proof of this in the past). Most importantly, the lining of your digestive system provides protection to the rest of your body against pathogens like pathogenic (bad) bacteria and other microbes that can cause illness. Some parts of your immune system are located there, the GALT complexes. They produce antibodies to help fight disease. Any changes in the gut’s balanced environment will affect your exercise routine, digestion, mental acuity, and energy levels making it difficult for you to lead a healthy life. Try the following suggestions:
Add anywhere from 25 – 40 grams/day of dietary fiber to your diet. Insoluble fiber will shorten the total transit time of waste products through your digestive tract. It also reduces hunger as it slows down gastric emptying and the absorption of sugars. Now, soluble fiber will bind cholesterol so that it can be excreted without being absorbed. It is also involved in fermentation products that enhance gut health by creating the conditions for proper absorption of nutrients. You can supplement your diet with it or choose to eat food items rich in these nutrients. A potential side effect is build up of intestinal gas which can be mitigated by starting out with a low amount of fiber and gradually increasing it to recommended values.
Take daily probiotics to the tune of 2 billion microorganisms/day.
Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium organisms have been studied the most and are very resistant to stomach acids. These microorganisms help the digestive system with the production of certain vitamins, compete against pathogenic bacteria and boosts the immune system. If you are immunocompromised check with your doctor about the use of probiotics. A possible side-effect is flatulence. So start out with a conservative dose. You can also add certain products to your diet such as plain yogurt, tempeh, sauerkraut to name a few.
Coming up: The last one of the changes to keep your gut in a happy mood.