LEWISBURG (WVDN) – Maintaining a healthy digestive system, or gut, could be the key to better health. When healthy, the gut absorbs nutrients from food, eliminates waste, communicates with the brain and supports a healthy immune system and nervous system function. If the gut is unhealthy, it can cause digestive diseases which affect 60–70 million Americans according to the National Institute of Health.
Signs of an unhealthy gut include an upset stomach, sudden weight gain or loss without changes in lifestyle, disrupted sleep and constant fatigue. If left untreated, an unhealthy gut can lead to chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Optimal gut health is achieved when the bacteria inside of the gastrointestinal tract, made up of the esophagus, stomach and intestines, work together without causing discomfort.
“Gut health is a popular and complex topic that can seem overwhelming,” says Lori Gledhill, M.D. with Greenbrier Valley Primary Care. “Luckily, maintaining a healthy gut can be easily achieved through simple lifestyle habits.”
Gledhill recommends these lifestyle habits to maintain a healthy gut:
● Consume probiotics: Eat probiotics from naturally fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut to help create a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
● Eat well: Avoid highly processed foods and eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fiber like apples, broccoli, salmon and quinoa.
● Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help improve gut health by increasing beneficial microbial species and helping to reduce stress.
● Hydrate: Drinking enough water is a simple way to improve gut health and prevent constipation.
● Reduce stress: Try walking, meditating and spending time with loved ones to help reduce stress and decrease inflammation in the gut.
“More than 70% of our immune cells reside in the gut. Therefore, maintaining proper gut health is important for your immune system to function properly” says Gledhill. “If you are experiencing signs of an unhealthy gut, schedule an appointment with your physician for further evaluation.”
For more information on how to maintain a healthy gut or to find a primary care doctor, visit gvmedicalgroup.com or call 304-645-3207.
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