Healthy morning habits are important to promote optimal digestion and good gut health. There are trillions of microscopic organisms in the gut microbiome that play a crucial role in our overall health and function of the body. A healthy, well functioning digestive system ensures healthy bowel movements, appetite regulation, energy levels, good mental health, and prevents digestive problems, such as indigestion or bloating.
“When gut health is good, you’re less likely to experience damaging inflammation and lapses in immunity.” says Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist, Gerard Mullin, M.D. This is because the gut also plays a vital role in maintaining a strong immune system, and poor gut health is linked to inflammation. As a result, the risk for health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, flu, and many more, is much higher.
How we start our day is important to set ourselves and our digestive system up for the day ahead. You might want to consider whether what you eat or drink in the morning, and the activities you carry out, are giving your digestive system and gut what it needs to function at its best.
There are a number of steps you can take every morning to improve digestive health. Below, we provide 3 top tips to help you look after your digestive system and gut.
Watch this video to learn all about gut health.
Starting your day by drinking lemon water may have a number of positive effects on the digestive system. Approximately, 75% of Americans are believed to suffer from dehydration, and may not even know they are dehydrated. Lemon water helps ensure your body is hydrated immediately, starting the day off on the right foot. It also helps kick start your digestive system and wake you up in the morning - a great way to blast away the groggy feeling if you aren’t a natural morning person.
Plenty of water helps prevent constipation and can help flush through the digestive system, whilst the acid from the lemon helps supplement stomach acid levels to assist with the breakdown of food.
Lemons have antioxidant effects that have the potential to help protect cells against damage from free radicals, which can lead to inflammation in the gut and cause pain and other digestive problems, such as IBS. They also contain a prebiotic fiber called pectin, which feeds the friendly gut bacteria and encourages the growth of more healthy bacteria. Large quantities of these “good” bacteria improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
Do something physical
Movement is medicine. Exercising in the morning not only helps boost energy levels and improve mood, it also helps look after your digestive system and gut health. Physical activity increases blood flow to the muscles of the digestive system, allowing them to work more quickly and effectively at pushing food along the digestive tract.
Exercise also impacts the balance of gut bacteria, helping promote the growth of good bacteria. Gentle exercise, such as walking or yoga, is better for digestion than high impact or vigorous aerobic exercise, as this can lead to pain and stitches.
Exercise helps lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. According to Mullin, reducing stress is fundamental for reducing heartburn and aiding digestion.
Eat a healthy breakfast
What you eat for breakfast sets your digestive system up for the day, so by making healthy choices, you are helping yourself feel your best. Eating a breakfast which contains prebiotic fiber feeds your healthy gut bacteria and helps them thrive. A gut microbiome with plenty of these good bacteria supports a healthy immune system, metabolism, and multiple studies have linked gut microbiota to mental health. According to research, an imbalance of microbial bacteria and a lack of healthy bacteria can contribute to anxiety and depression. Foods that contain prebiotics include vegetables, fruit and high-fiber foods, such as oats, onions, bananas and beans. Prebiotic fiber also helps keep you full for longer and regulates appetite throughout the day.
Probiotics are also important for gut health. These are live bacteria and yeasts usually added to fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir and kimchi. Probiotics are often described as “friendly” bacteria and help maintain or restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut.
A healthy digestive system and gut microbiome is essential for our overall well being and general health. By starting your day with a good morning routine, you can set the tone for the day ahead. A good example of healthy morning habits would be: drinking a large glass of lemon water as soon as you wake up, 10 minutes of gentle exercise, such as yoga, and a healthy nutritious breakfast, which contains foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics. Avoiding things like sugar, coffee and stress, may also have positive impacts on your digestive system and help it function as well as possible.
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