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Exercise Your Way To A Healthy Digestive System

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It is no news that exercise is healthy for both heart, lungs and your mental health. Now new studies show that you can add a healthy digestive system to the list.

A healthy intestinal flora is important for our general health and there is an abundance of new research which in different ways puts the gut bacteria under the microscope. We all know the feeling of an upset stomach. It can both be the awkward physical condition, which cannot easily be controlled – you feel bloated and your stomach rumbles – but the unease also covers a mental condition, where the stomach is an extension to your emotional state of mind. Our stomach and intestinal flora have an effect on both our physical and mental well-being.

Our whole body is affected if our digestive system is out of balance. Therefore, the increased scientific interest for the area is not strange. The obvious road to a healthy digestive system explicitly lies within our diet. What we send through our system and the composition of it naturally has a great importance on how the bacterial state develops. We can eat our way to a healthy digestive system and there are plenty of good nutritional advice as to how a varied and rich diet is good for your intestinal flora. Lately researchers have been looking into what effect exercise has on our digestive system.

Diversity is good

A study by Dr. Fergus Shanahan, gastroenterologist and professor in medicine at Cork University in Ireland, shows that the intestinal flora in a professional rugby player contains a much larger bacterial diversity compared to the one found in other healthy and age equivalent men. The trillion of bacteria found in our digestive system are of great importance – not just for the health of our intestines but also for your overall health. Greater intestinal microbial diversity points to a better health in adults while smaller diversity has been observed in people with a variety of conditions such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, depression and autism.

Studies indicate that exercise has an influence on how microbacteria develop in our bodies and that exercise enhance the development of greater diversity of microbiotic life in our intestines. It is therefore not diet alone that creates the diversity which benefits your intestinal flora. Exercise has a significant importance.

Regular exercise

This also applies for those of us who are not elite athletes. Jeffrey A. Woods is a professor at the institute for kinesiology and general health at University of Illinois. In his study on the effect of exercise on intestinal microbiota, he explains that exercise alone has a great significance. 18 slim and 14 overweight sedentary people participated in his study. During a six weeks period the subjects participated in a 30-60 minutes workout program three times a week. At the end of the period the results showed that six weeks with regular exercise increased the microbacteria in the subjects’ digestive systems. The following six weeks the subjects returned to their sedentary life style. At the end of this period the bacterial flora had returned to the starting point. The study not only shows that exercise has a significant effect on your digestive system but also that exercise makes a difference independently from diet and other factors.

The key to good health

There is a lot of good reasons to exercise. Exercise can help you keep your digestive system healthy. The new research results help strengthen the arguments that a healthy digestive system is important for your bodies general well-being, indeed for your bodies general resistance in many different aspects.

Your digestive system helps you gain both mental and physical well-being. Your whole body is actually affected, if your digestive system is out of balance. The digestive system plays an important role in your overall organ system and has an influence on different diseases, as previously mentioned in the article. There is therefore a significant connection between the effect the intestinal bacteria have on our health and our immune system. Already from birth the immune system is created in the meeting with bacteria. The balance of the digestive system affects the balance of the immune system. If your digestive system is out of balance, there is a risk that your immune system might come out of balance too. The negative cycle can develop to previously mentioned inflammatory conditions that affect other parts of the body as well – both physically and mentally.

In short – it is important to have a healthy digestive system. The beneficial effect of exercise on the microbacteria in the human body has great importance for your overall well-being. You can get far with a healthy and diverse diet but add exercise to that and you have come far.

Three tips for a healthy digestive system

  1. Exercise regularly and move your body
    • You don’t need to run the marathon. A good long walk or some living room exercises are enough.
    • When you move you increase the intestinal microbial diversity
    • Greater diversity in your intestinal flora is the road to a better health.
  2. Eat coarse and varied
    • Coarse vegetables and whole grain products stimulate your digestion.
  3. Drink lots of water
    • Water is very important for your digestion. Try to drink around two liters water daily.

This is also available in: Dansk

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