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Habits that cause an unhealthy intestine

Your gut is much more important to your health than you think. That's why it's important to know what habits are harming you and know what to do. Research shows that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is key to supporting numerous everyday functions of the body and can decrease the risk of chronic diseases.
That's why it's important to make sure you're doing everything you can to support your gut microbiome and avoid habits that harm your gut health, putting your overall health at risk. Along with increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as gastrointestinal problems, Your body is more prone to getting sick and even developing autoimmune diseases .
The Healthy @Reader's Digest spoke with Patricia Kolesa about habits that harm gut health, as well as small lifestyle changes that will benefit your gut microbiome in the long run.
Below, we present the 5 habits that are affecting the health of your intestine:

Not drinking enough water

“Water helps bring nutrients from food to different parts of the body and helps eliminate waste,” Kolesa says. “The recommended amount for the average person is 64 ounces per day (eight cups). Without adequate hydration, toxins can accumulate in the body and risk dehydration and/or constipation .”

Not consuming enough prebiotics and probiotics

“Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ found in the gut,” Kolesa says. “Probiotics can change the intestinal bacteria to balance the intestinal flora. This boosts your immunity and overall gut health because the probiotics from food are added to the gut. Prebiotics are non-digestible components that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. When taken together, prebiotics and probiotics can improve gut health.”

Kolesa says adding a balance of prebiotic foods (like whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables) and probiotics (fermented foods and cultured yogurts, for example) is a great place to start.

Not eating enough during the day

It may seem convenient to skip a meal during the day, but according to Kolesa, it is one of the habits that damage intestinal health. “When we don't eat enough or skip meals, we tend to gravitate toward fast foods to fill the hunger void,” she says.

“This could look like fast food, sweet snacks, or energy-dense foods. More often than not, this results in more careless eating which can lead to a build-up of harmful bacteria in the gut. This is due to the additional stress on the body.”

Eat a balanced meal every three or four hours. Packing a variety of small snacks that include fiber, protein, and healthy fats can help you feel full and keep your gut happy.

Drink too much alcohol

Unfortunately, research shows that drinking too much alcohol can negatively affect the microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). A review in Alcohol Research found that alcohol-induced changes in the GIT alter the composition of the microbiota and contribute to alcohol-induced oxidative stress, increasing the development of alcoholic liver disease and other diseases such as gastrointestinal cancers.

Alcohol causes cell death when consumed, which changes the composition of the intestine and overwhelms the GIT. This results in intestinal and other organ damage , and the potential development of chronic diseases.

Eat a low fiber diet

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommend that consumers consume at least 25 to 38 grams of fiber per day, but only 7% of adults get the fiber intake they need, which research shows can negatively impact human health. gut microbiome.

“The more healthy bacteria you have in your gut, the better your health will be,” says Kolesa. “Some emerging studies show that fiber may contribute to the diversity of the gut microbiota. The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and slows digestion, allowing you to feel fuller longer. It also helps feed the good bacteria in the gut. “Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass better through the stomach and intestines.”

Kolesa suggests finding ways to increase your fiber intake to feed your gut bacteria, such as choosing whole grains and adding more fiber-rich foods to your meals, such as legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

However, increasing fiber may not be a good idea for someone with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, so Kolesa suggests speaking with a doctor and a registered dietitian to determine the amount of fiber that works for your specific needs. body.

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