Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health: 24 Hours to a Healthier Gut
From Waking to Bedtime: A 24-Hour Lifestyle Guide to Restore Gut Health
In the crowded field of wellness and nutrition, packed with some who are flogging overpriced products to the gullible and desperate, simplicity is that most welcome of things: this easy-to-digest 24-hour gut health guide is just what you need.
Many of the choices you make every 24 hours, big or small, can impact your health—meaning the power to feel better, look better, and live a better life is in your hands. So why not start with your gut health?
Looking after your gut health does not mean complicated or boring food – it’s all about what you add in. Here’s how to improve your digestive system all day long, beginning first thing in the morning.
Instead of falling victim to the AM social media scroll or the pressure of a full inbox, practice a meditation or breathwork exercise. Even a quick five minutes can calm your nervous system and regulate cortisol (the stress hormone that’s the enemy of a healthy gut), and help you start your day on a balanced and positive note.
In Ayurveda, “agni” is the digestive fire in your body that needs to be rekindled first thing in the morning to help boost your energy levels and clear the mind (2). The key here is temperature. Cold foods slow your digestive system but hot or warm keeps everything moving at a healthy pace. When you wake up parched, choose a cup of warm/hot water instead of an iced latte to stimulate “agni” and kickstart your daily dose of hydration. As the warm water moves through your stomach and intestines, digestive organs are better hydrated and able to eliminate waste.
Even when you’re busy, don’t be tempted to rely on coffee alone or skip breakfast. Choose a breakfast that’s light and easy, but still packs in lots of nutrients. A delicious bowl of Bircher muesli from Booster Deli and Café (click here to check out our mouth-watering plant-based breakfast menu) is filled with complex carbohydrates, protein, omega fats and essential minerals that will help fire up the digestive system, eliminate bloat and regulate cravings.
A few minutes of sun exposure in the morning can help regulate melatonin levels and set you up for a good night’s sleep later on which is key in maintaining the natural cycle of your gut microbiota, the wonderfully complex community of trillions of microbes that live in your digestive tract (3).
Every meal is an opportunity to focus on abundance. Inclusion rather than exclusion is the aim of the game for a happy gut. Make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff by filling your plate with as many different plant foods as you can.
Tip: Just as the liquid olive goodness of extra virgin olive oil can benefit your brain and heart health, it gives your gut microbiota some love too (3).
If you want to maximise the diversity of your gut microbiota, avoid restrictive eating patterns, enjoy your grains and fill up on fibre. Most guidelines recommend getting 30g of fibre a day, but remember when you’re increasing, go slow and steady – and make sure you’re staying hydrated to help the fibre work its microbial magic.
Spend a lot of your day in front of a screen? Consider blue-light-blocking glasses or a screen filter to protect you from that artificial glow, which can disrupt your circadian rhythm and adversely affect your sleep. And yes, we really can’t stress enough the important of sleep for your gut health!
Before you call it a day, make it a priority to move. You’ve heard a million reasons to exercise regularly before but did you know that as well as helping with issues like constipation, moving your body is linked to having a more diverse gut microbiota (3)? Find the form of movement that brings you joy and get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes most days to reap the gastrointestinal benefits.
A cup of herbal tea serves dual purposes because not only can it quell late-night sweet cravings, but if you choose one with soothing herbs like chamomile and lavender, it will also encourage a restful state.
Kombucha is a great option when you want something healthy and fizzy to tame your soda craving. This bubbly drink typically packs fewer calories and sugar since a lot of the sugar gets lost in the fermentation process. That said, ideally, you want to look for kombucha with less than 6 grams of sugar per 230 ml (1).
Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night – and if you can wake up and go to sleep at around the same time (give or take 30 minutes), your body will love you for it.
Cut down on unnecessary medications and choose lifestyle tweaks rather than a prescription, where possible. Work on your sleep quality instead of taking sleeping pills – or dial down your alcohol intake, as opposed to taking acid reflux medication (3).
Keep a dark, quiet and cool bedroom, stay away from glowing screens in the hours before bed and avoid caffeine after 3pm. As the day comes full circle, another meditation or breathwork practice can help relax you – and your gut!
1. Bulsiewicz, W. (2020). Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome (pp. 149 – 151). Penguin Random House LLC.
2. Mischke, M. (2017). The Importance of Healthy Digestion. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/understanding-agni/
3. Rossi, M. (2019). The Gut Health Doctor: An Easy-to-Digest Guide to Health from the Inside Out (pp. 45 – 280). Penguin Life.
This article is written by Ashlyne Nair