It can be quite hard to refuse piping hot samosas and kachoris. If there are laddoos to go with them then it is even better! Especially during festive seasons, controlling one’s diet can be difficult. But overeating or consuming unhealthy food too often can be harmful. These habits directly affect the gut flora – a collection of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that line your gut – leading to long-term health issues. These can lead to mental health issues too.
The Second Brain
The digestive tract contains nerve cells, neurons, and neurotransmitters found in the central nervous system. This is why it is also called the ENS or the enteric nervous system. As the name suggests, it influences our mental, emotional, and physical well-being in more ways than one. Our bodies depend on hormones to regulate general functions. When one is stressed, nervous, or unhappy, the hormones released to facilitate these feelings also enter the digestive tract. This affects the gut flora and leads to problems like diarrhoea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), constipation, nausea, and other such gastrointestinal problems.
The ENS is mainly responsible for the breaking down of food and digesting it. While it does not influence the thoughts in the brain, it is capable of having its own reflexes and senses. The brain does not interfere with the gut to direct the process of digestion. Even more surprisingly, research has found that information is carried from the gut to the brain and not the other way around in 90% of the cases. Thus many believe that the key to a healthy lifestyle lies in making sure that both the mind and the gut are happy.
How can you keep your gut happy?
In today’s world, the consumption of processed foods is on the rise. While is easier and sometimes more appealing to the taste buds, it is not good for the gut. Avoiding them completely is difficult but there are other ways to maintain and restore gut health. Some of the ways are:
Among other benefits, drinking water regularly ensures the smooth functioning of the gut. Drinking enough water helps in breaking down food. That makes it easier for the digestive tract to absorb more nutrients. This is one of the easiest ways to restore gut health.
Regular exercise helps to create an environment in the gut that encourages the growth of good bacteria. It also leads to a more diverse range of microorganisms in the stomach which is better for digestion. A steady fitness regime can therefore contribute significantly to rebuilding the gut.
Healthy eating practices:
What you eat goes into making your gut healthy. Thus, eating healthy food is a really good way to ensure a healthy gut. Restoring gut health can be made very easy by consuming food products that are high in fiber, freshly cooked and produced, and full of vitamins and minerals. The consumption of healthy food encourages the creation of good bacteria in your stomach which keeps you healthy in the long run.
As anxiety plays a big role in determining the overall health of the gut, it is advisable to seek professional help if you find yourself going through it often. Stress and anger management are also important life skills that can help in restoring gut health.
An ancient preventive measure suggested by Ayurveda, Hingavastaka Chooranam is made of traditional ingredients that keep any problems with the gut at bay. The main ingredient is asafoetida which is then enhanced with many other ingredients like cumin and carom seeds. Consuming this choornam ensures that the process of digestion is smooth and unhindered. This in turn restores gut health, prevents problems like constipation and indigestion, and is even said to deal with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and encourage bone health.The importance of restoring gut health should never be underestimated. It helps in enabling us to lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. Thus, the secret to a happy mind is to have a happy gut.