Seasonal effects on Gut Health

Gut health can change for a variety of reasons, through aging, with diet and lifestyle changes, as an effect of a medical issue, or even with the seasons. As we move into the colder winter months, your digestive needs may change. The gut refers to the entire digestive tract, made up of several organs responsible for multiple body functions. When one area of the gut becomes irritated, inflamed, or otherwise uncomfortable, symptoms can present as heartburn, pain, constipation or diarrhea, nausea or other symptoms. Here’s our tips for keeping your gut health balanced through winter.

Gut health affects many of your body’s functions, including regulating hormones, eliminating toxins, contributing to levels of fatigue, and more.

In a season where colds, flu and respiratory illness increase, the gut affects your immune system. The immune system is approximately 70% housed within the digestive tract and gut, and a balanced, healthy gut can support and strengthen that system.

Diet

A healthy diet promotes digestion while ensuring that your body gets the vitamins, minerals and nutrition that it needs. In the winter months, comfort food can be more enticing, with less access to fresh vegetables from gardens or farmers markets. Limit white carbohydrates and replace them with quinoa or brown rice for a healthier option. Look for root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets or winter leafy greens like kale and swiss chard, which are also high in fiber and great for keeping your digestive system moving.

Hydration

When paired with a high fiber diet, hydration is another key component in keeping the digestive system moving. This keeps waste moving freely out of your body, while giving it enough liquid resources to produce enzymes and other critical digestive juices that help your organs function properly. According to the CDC, adults in the United States drank approximately 39 ounces of water daily between 2005 & 2010, which is below the recommended 64 daily ounces. Increasing water intake not only prevents headaches and increases energy levels, but it also supports gut health.

Temperature

Cold and freezing temperatures can cause your body to slow down in an effort to conserve energy and heat.Your metabolism can also slow down, making digestion slower and more difficult. The same is true with cold and raw foods that are difficult for your body to break down. Instead, drink beverages at room temperature instead of with ice, and incorporate more cooked vegetables into your meals.

Learn more tips for optimizing your gut health no matter the season on our blog, and schedule your appointment with one of the Great Lakes Gastroenterology physicians today.

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