When we talk about good health, a lot goes into focusing on changing dietary habits, making lifestyle modifications, or challenging yourself with health goals. Work from home, travel restrictions, lack of physical activity and altered eating patterns are the challenges thrown at us during the ongoing pandemic. A more or less sedentary lifestyle in such cases has led to many people gaining weight. Yes!! Food is the means to survival but what we eat determines our well-being. Our gut health is the one taken for granted. Various gut-related issues arise due to overlooking the fact that food is not to comfort but a means to nourish the body with the right nutrients. Obesity and poor digestive health are linked to bloating, flatulence, acid reflux, constipation apart from other issues.
The positive takeaways from a year full of upheavals and economic meltdown are the ones that should be followed as a way of life.
A busy routine kept us on our toes, where our conversation with food was lost. Health needed attention and immunity compromised. What really worked in times of the lockdown is the switch from processed food to home-cooked meals and immunity boosters.
Go green with every meal
Nutrient-rich diets support gut microbiota which has plenty of fibre and are high in antioxidants. With restrictions on dining out and negligible social activity, one can pay attention to balanced meals by adding a different variety of salads and a protein source to the plate.
Since travel time has reduced having meals earlier in the evening can be a good way to start a lifestyle change. It’s necessary to keep a gap of at least 3 hours between bedtime and your last meal to avoid digestive issues.
Black and white thinking
Extreme ways of going on and off various diets, categorizing food as good or bad. Perception of eating right without having an in-depth know how of proportions of macronutrients, leads to binge eating of something considered healthy and restrictive eating of foods, assumed as unhealthy. This can have an impact on the beneficial gut bacteria. Following a plan and making small changes in your diet prevents regaining weight and assures a steady pace of weight management.
Walk that first mile
It’s a good idea to prepare walking at the pace you feel comfortable to kick in the endorphins. Warming up and slowly getting into something more challenging eventually will go a long way to introduce a regular fitness program. Studies indicate that exercising does have a positive impact on gut microbes.
For many, lack of physical activity, erratic meal timings, heavy late-night meals, disturbed sleep patterns, and stress have changed the sleep and wake cycle causing changes in bowel movement. People experiencing a change of routine can get what is called quarantine constipation. A good time to start rectifying health imbalances is by controlling meal portions, adding fibre-rich food to the diet, and drinking 8-10 glasses of water at least.
Food and mood
A lot has been spoken about anxiety during the last year due to a situation that was beyond our control. Chronic stress can harm mental health. We feel good hormones get suppressed causing mood swings. This can significantly disturb the gut microflora. However to boost our moods and help healthy bacterial growth one can opt for foods rich in polyphenols like fruits and vegetables, dark chocolate, whole grains.
Something that was often neglected or wiped off on the side of a trouser. Not anymore!! This pandemic taught us the importance of self-hygiene. Research indicates that good hygiene can in turn lead to better gut health which keeps the gut bugs happy.
Author: Komal Lala,