You and Your Gut: How to Ease Painful Symptoms and Live Your Healthiest Life

Kristine Burke, MD
December 4, 2018

You and Your Gut: How to Ease Painful Symptoms and Live Your Healthiest Life

By Cheryl Conklin from

If you suffer from a digestive ailment, you may feel like you're at your wit’s end. Almost anything can set off a bout of illness, and mastering how you feel can seem impossible. However, there are natural remedies that may be able to help.

Why Gut Health Matters

If you want to understand your GI issues, you need to understand your gut. Your stomach and digestive tract affect many functions of your body, not just processing food. It's called the gut microbiome, and it is full of good bacteria that keep you healthy and happy. Many doctors actually think that the more bacteria you have, the better. You just want to ensure that you have plenty of the good kind. Bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli can keep your gut well and prevent disease. Your stomach even produces some of the chemicals that make us feel happy, like serotonin. When your stomach is in good health, your immune system actually works better and keeps you strong.

Eat Better

What you put into your digestive system directly impacts how well it functions. There are many things you need to avoid as well as add. Compounds like gluten and refined sugar are especially difficult to digest and can actually cause bad bacteria to grow. Swap white sugar for natural alternatives, like honey. Oily, processed foods are also toxic for healthy bacteria. Eating too much red meat can be hard on our stomachs as well, so reduce your consumption, and try to eat organic, whole foods as often as possible. There are lots of ways to make healthful, enjoyable meals using gut-friendly ingredients. Make sure you add lots of probiotic and prebiotic-heavy foods, like yogurt, fermented foods and whole grains.

Exercise to Aid Digestion

It may seem like the last thing we want to do, but exercise is not just good for our muscles and weight. It's also great for GI well-being. There is a caveat, however. You should never exercise immediately after eating. Keep relaxed, as this can help you digest your food, for at least two hours after a meal. Your workout routine doesn't need to be excessive; just 30 minutes a day can go a long way toward helping you feel your best. Exercise, especially activities like yoga, can lower inflammation, which may have a big influence on gut ailments. Unfortunately, if feeling like you have to work out causes you stress, this can actually negate any positive impact the exercise may have, so only engage in a routine you enjoy.

Lowering Your Stress

Too much stress can cause good bacteria to die off. When you experience continual levels of stress, you enter fight-or-flight mode. This may cause your blood to flow to your muscles while restricting its access to other parts of your body, such as your stomach. If sustained, this mode can kill off the good bacteria in your gut, which can further affect your physical and emotional health. For your own sake, it's important to handle stress in productive ways, rather than internalizing negative feelings. You also need to get enough sleep every night, make time to relax each day, and add a fun, healthy outlet to your routine, such as taking up a hobby.

You don't need to live in pain. There are ways you can improve how you feel naturally. Adjust your diet, exercise wisely, and take steps to lower your stress. You can feel better!

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