As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Our parents were definitely on to something when they made us eat our green vegetables growing up.
With hindsight, we now understand eating nutritious food and taking care of our body goes a long way in keeping our digestive system healthy.
Good digestive health is just one piece of the puzzle to maintaining a stronger, healthier body overall—including a stronger immune system.
What is the digestive system, and how does it work?
When we think about our digestive system, the stomach is probably the first thing that comes to mind. This isn’t wrong—but there’s more to it than that.
The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract or digestive tract) that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, small intestine, large intestine, and anus. Then our nerves and hormones work together to regulate and control all of their functions.
These components must work in harmony to help the body digest food, absorb nutrients, supply the body with energy, and eliminate waste. If the digestive tract isn’t balanced or functioning properly, you might be more susceptible to constipation, nausea, discomfort, food intolerances, and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How gut health impacts immune health
Nearly 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut. When your immune system is healthy, your gut microbiome and immune system maintain balance in the body. An unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system.1 2 3
A healthy gut does more than just digest your food, the “good” bacteria in your digestive system help keep the “bad” bacteria in check by multiplying so often that “bad” bacteria don’t have space to grow. When you have a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria, your digestive system has achieved “equilibrium.”
Let’s take a look at what you can do to help maintain a healthy gut.
5 easy ways to support your digestive health
1. Stay hydrated
Even when you think you’ve had enough water, drink some more. This is an easy way to help your digestive system run smoothly, yet it’s often forgotten. Not to mention, the body loses a lot of water through sweating and digesting.
Drinking water helps to move food through the digestive system, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste easily. Increasing your water intake to 1.5 – 2 litres per day can help maintain healthy digestion. Staying hydrated also helps the immune system remove toxins and bacteria that may cause infection.4 5
2. Take a probiotic
Not all bacteria are bad! In some cases, they’re really good for you. Here we’re referring to probiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms like bacteria and yeast, that exist predominantly in the gut and aid in digestion. Probiotics can be found in many foods including yogurt, kombucha, pickled vegetables, or can be taken in the form of a supplement.
Do probiotics improve digestion?
Probiotics may improve digestive health by breaking down fibers and helping to balance the bacteria in your digestive system. In some cases, they have also been shown to improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as abdominal pain and discomfort.6
Sisu Integris 30 is an effective source of probiotics that helps to support gastrointestinal health. This probiotic also helps to provide symptomatic relief of abdominal pain and discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome. It has been heavily researched, with more than 75 clinical studies over more than 25 years.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all probiotics are created equal, and certain probiotic strains may be better for certain conditions. If you want to take probiotics for a specific condition, it’s best to talk to your doctor first.
When is the best time to take probiotics?
The best time to take probiotics depends on the probiotic strain. For some, it’s recommended to take it before you eat; for others, it’s better to take with food. The research suggests that, in general, probiotics should be taken with or just before a meal.7
Sisu Integris 20 is a great probiotic for everyday use. It helps support digestive health all in a convenient one-per-day dose. And Integris is shelf-stable – no refrigeration needed – which means it won’t get lost behind your left overs!
3. Manage your stress
Stress begets stress. Or, in this case, poor digestion. We’ve all been there—impending deadlines, family drama, and financial concerns often kick us into “fight or flight” mode. But for the sake of our digestive health, it’s important to be in “rest and digest” mode.
Stress hormones can directly affect digestion. Its impact has been connected to stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, and IBS.8
Stress can also affect the immune system. When you’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced, making you more susceptible to illness. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes.9
Thankfully, stress management has been shown to improve digestive health (including symptoms of IBS) and immune health.10
A couple of ways to manage your stress and digestive health include:
- Slowing down when you eat. When we’re stressed, our instinct may be to eat quickly or mindlessly. But it’s best to slow down, chew your food properly, and take your time.
- When you feel yourself getting stressed, try meditating or taking a walk in nature to turn back into the present moment and focus on your breath.
Stress is inevitable in our modern world, but it’s important to prioritize your wellbeing in order to keep your digestive system and immune system working optimally.
4. Exercise regularly
Get the heart pumping and your body moving! Regular exercise helps food move seamlessly through the digestive system, even when you’re resting. Physical exercise increases blood flow to the muscles in the digestive system that massage food along the digestive tract, allowing them to work more quickly and effectively.
Not to mention, regular exercise also helps relieve stress, improve sleep, and contribute to a healthy immune system.
5. Make sure you’re getting your nutrients
Eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and quality protein sources, can help keep your digestive system running smoothly.
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for gut health. Fiber is a carbohydrate that your body cannot digest.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers dissolve in water and can help lower glucose levels. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water, and can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and preventing constipation. Foods with insoluble fibers include whole grains, brown rice, cucumbers, and more.11
A diet rich in fiber also contributes to the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota, which can ultimately promote a healthy digestive system and immune system.12
Not getting enough nutrients from your diet? Try a supplement.
Taking a supplement is a great way to help support healthy digestive processes, a stronger immune system, and overall well-being. Let’s take a look at a few of our favourites:
Sisu Supreme Multivitamin is a daily supplement that brings together a full complex of ingredients including B vitamins and immune supporting Ester-C® to help maintain the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients and helps with immune function. Available with or without iron.
Ester-C® Supreme is a citrus free formula that helps to support a healthy immune system. Ester-C® is more gentle on the stomach than regular vitamin C, and stays in the body for up to 24-hours. It’s also vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free.
Some food for thought
Prioritizing your gut health is one of the most important things you can do to promote long-term health and well-being. By drinking more water, exercising regularly, managing stress, or taking probiotics and nutritional supplements like Sisu Supreme Multivitamin, you can start to feel better from the inside out!
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