Medical practitioners around the world have been trying to understand the complexity of our gut system for more than two decades now. In fact a lot of their successful studies have revealed links between gut health and our immune system, our moodiness, mental well being, skin conditions and endocrine conditions, among others. Our overall health is just a reflection of our gut health. With our modern day lifestyle, amidst the pandemic while many of us are suffering from high stress, getting little to no sleep, eating processed or cold food, having sugar cravings every now and then, or talking medications, our gut health is bound to get affected, in turn leading to weakened immune system along with our skin, weight, heart etc getting impacted adversely as well.

When did you get your last health check up? Do not delay any more. Book a comprehensive test package and get tested at home.

Below are 6 common signs that point towards an unhealthy gut:

  • Sugar cravings: The gut bacteria secrete proteins such as leptin and ghrelin, which act as hunger regulating hormones in your body, that are responsible for your food cravings and mood. So when you crave cakes, pastries, chocolates, cookies etc, you actually feed the unhelpful bacteria which in turn secret the proteins that make you want to crave sugary substances even more. In turn they reduce the good bacteria in your gut. You need to fix your gut in order for it to get rid of these bad bacteria that result in such sugar cravings.

  • Bloating, gas or diarrhoea: These are the most common and basic symptoms of gut dysfunction. When the balance of the good and bad bacteria is not appropriate, or you either have deficient stomach acid bowel irregularity and gas tends to occur, the food is not able to break down properly. This might be due to eating fast without chewing properly i.e. gulping down food in haste. In case of diarrhoea, food moves quickly down the gastrointestinal tract, and out of the body in liquid form, and can cause dehydration.

  • Food intolerances: The gut is a gatekeeper that checks in whatever goes inside the body and acts as a passageway for what goes out of the body. When you have a leaky gut, large protein molecules enter the bloodstream. Since these proteins aren’t outside the scope of our gut, our body tends to attack them resulting in food intolerances.

  • Mood swings: When your gut health is tampered with, it will adversely have an impact on your serotonin and dopamine hormones; your happy hormones, as majority of these reside in your gut. Naturally compromising on your gut health will lead to inefficient or null production of these hormones leading to changes in mood and sleep pattern. The inner complex workings of the digestive tract, is not just for food but also for leading your emotions.

  • Weak immunity: There is a well established connection between your leaky gut and immunity. Unhealthy gut leads to inflammation and acts as a hurdle in the proper functioning of the immune system. When your immune system is jeopardized, you tend to fall sick more often as your body fails to work on attacking the viruses or bacteria.

  • Chronic fatigue or sluggishness: One of the major underlying signs associated with an unhealthy gut could be feeling tired, lazy or sleepy all the time that doesn’t fade away in spite of enough rest or sleep. The severity and symptoms vary from person to person; some of the common ones can be difficulty in concentrating or focussing, constant headaches, sore throat, extreme exhaustion after exercising etc. Combination of fatigue and headache can be linked with a leaky gut, which allows partially undigested food, toxins and bugs to pass through the gaps in the gut lining causing inflammation. Lack of vitamin D can add on to this fatigue.                                      

How can you improve your gut health?

  • Eat your meals slowly
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Cut down on sugary food
  • Alter your diet to avoid food intolerances
  • Eat fibrous, fermented food items
  • Get enough rest and sleep
  • Reduce your tolerance to stress

Keep your gut health in check

Apart from the natural things we all do for better gut health, clinical testing is always the sure shot way of diagnosing and moving forward with the correct treatment. Here are some tests that can be done to ensure healthy gut and and a healthy body:

  • Functional stool test- for this, you need to send your stool sample to the lab for getting tested, when you want to have the full disclosure of what is happening with your gut. The test check for certain bacteria or fungal overgrowth, parasite infection, nutrient malabsorption that acts as an indicator of leaky gut etc.

  • Lactulose breath test: This test asks you to alter your diet for a day and drink sugar drinks and take breath samples over a period of time to check for any bacterial overgrowth in your small intestine that might cause bloating.

  • Visual inspection: Checking your stool secretion and colour from time to time is the least expensive yet the most effective way to know your gut health better.

A healthy gut is responsible for effective digestion, healthy brain, healthy heart, better mood, peaceful sleep, etc. Making certain changes in your lifestyle can have a positive effect on your gut health and ultimately your overall health as well.

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Scientific Tips for Aging Gracefully

The population of the world, as a whole, is living longer. It is thus essential to implement proactive steps to create changes at both individual and environmental levels, which can promote aging in a better way.

The concept of aging well is a fundamental requirement to improve health and well-being in order to enhance length and quality of life. Aging well highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping wellness on priority while growing older.

Here are 7 scientific tips that can help you age gracefully:

  1. Keeping physically active

It has been observed that poor health in old age is mainly caused due to the effects of multiple lifestyle choices, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and smoking.

Regular exercising lowers the risk of several diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. Several studies also suggest that aerobic exercises may improve the symptoms of Alzheimer disease. Moreover, certain evidence have demonstrated the beneficial effect of physical activity on aging at cellular levels, causing an increase in energy, flexibility and overall sense of well-being.

Various types of physical activity that can be done are:

  • Simple exercises such as walking, jogging, yoga, weight lifting or a dance class possess multiple benefits as they can control weight, uplift mood, and makes you sleep better
  • A 30 minute-walk every day, it can also be broken into shorter strolls

It has been recommended that an adult should do 2½ - 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, 1 ¼ - 2 ½ hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises, or a combination of these two.

If you haven’t been exercising, discuss with your doctor about how you can get started gradually.

  1. Eating a balanced diet

Diet is shown to play an active part in how well you age. Nutritious diet helps in keeping an individual mentally sharp and gives energy to enjoy day-to-day activities. Eating a balanced diet not only helps you age well, but also prevent oneself against various diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, etc.

Numerous studies have shown that chronic illnesses, particularly auto-immune diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, can be associated with our diet, hence, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory components such as fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended.

In addition, avoiding processed food with a higher glycemic index can raise your BMI, increase your waistline, and raise your blood sugar. Enough vitamin D level is essential as it helps contribute to bone health as you age. Salt should be kept to minimum to prevent high blood pressure.

The recommended diet for aging well should include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta
  • Lean protein, such as fish and beans
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as milk, yogurt or cheese that contain vitamin D
  1. Focusing on mental health

Mental health is very crucial as happiness with less stress levels can help a person age gracefully and liver longer and healthier.

Various tips for improving your mental health includes:

  • One should practice the habit of staying optimistic. Keeping a positive outlook can cure stress associated with life problems.
  • One should stay connected as loneliness is harmful for your mental health. A lonelier individual has higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation, linked to disorders like arthritis. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network enhance both mental and physical well-being and longevity.
  • Learn to embrace different aspects of life with a positive attitude.
  • Find new hobbies as exploring new and meaningful things can provide a sense of purpose and keep your anxiety levels to minimum. Keep yourself busy to lessen stress about things you can’t control.
  1. Getting enough sleep

The sleeping habit of an adult in this era has been greatly affected by changed lifestyle and work pressure. This sleep-deprived state in turn, leads to fatigue and premature aging of body cells.

It has been observed that insomnia is more common in older adults. Thus, sticking to a sleeping schedule is important as it can keep a body in sync for appropriate sleep. For an uninterrupted sleep:

  • Keep the room a little cooler and dark
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening
  • Avoid electronics before bedtime which emit blue light.

Usually sleeping hours are majorly dependent on your age, an 8-hours sleep is recommended for an adult for better mental and physical health. It has been reported that our skin cells build and repair themselves during sleep, and that’s why we feel renewed and rejuvenated.

Beneficial effects of appropriate sleep include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reducing the risk of obesity
  • Improving focus and concentration.
  1. Restricting smoking and alcohol consumption

Smoking and alcohol, both have shown many negative effects on the process of aging. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine can cause ailments like heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, etc. Similarly, limit your alcohol consumption to avoid risk of health diseases including liver ailments.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but there are resources that can help you quit. Seek the help of a healthcare professional.

It has been reported that your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette.

  1. Scheduling health tests on time

    As you age, your body organs also age. The aging body organs are more prone to get diseased and less likely to repair themselves. By getting your health tests done regularly, you are keeping an eye on the aging body. This helps to identify any health condition at an early stage, and take action. Ensure to get a full body check up done twice a year.
  1. Maintain hydration

    Hydration is vital to our bodies as drinking water regularly helps in releasing out toxins and aids in digestion. Additionally, it aids in sleeping better, and improves focus and weight loss. Adequate water intake can also help you avoid dry, flaky skin and fine lines, which in turn, can help your skin look younger.
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