There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone in different ways. One major problem it’s caused for just about everyone, though, is increased stress.
If you already struggle with gut issues, whether it be from genetics or other gastrointestinal problems, stress can exacerbate those issues. In fact, stress can actually allow more harmful gut bacteria to enter your body, contributing to a weaker immune system and other potential health issues.
That isn’t what anyone wants to hear, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to both restore your gut health and maintain it during the stress of the pandemic, and beyond.
Most people understand the benefits of exercise. It’s good for your heart, it can improve lung function, and keep you at a healthy weight. But, incorporating more daily movement into your life can also improve your gut health. Regular exercise can help to enhance the number of good bacteria in your gut, keeping things balanced and making it easier to fight off digestive issues. The more good bacteria you have, the less of a risk you’ll be at for certain modern illnesses like:
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
You don’t have to go to the gym for hours each day or train for a marathon to reap the rewards of being active. Try to do things you actually enjoy, and you’ll be more likely to stick with them. Things like yoga, hiking, or even taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Not only will exercising improve your gut health, but it can help to reduce your stress levels and boost your mood. It can be especially helpful to get some exercise outside, as it can give you more energy, as well. Since feeling fatigued is often a symptom of poor gut health, getting an energy boost during the day can make a big difference in your attitude.
Change Your Habits
Making lifestyle modifications can greatly improve your gut health, especially if you already deal with gastrointestinal issues like GERD. One of the easiest ways to make changes is to modify what you eat and drink. Some foods can trigger symptoms and make you feel worse, while others can improve your overall gut health and cause a better balance of bacteria.
Try to avoid the following if you have existing gastrointestinal problems:
- Spicy foods
- Fatty foods
- Fried foods
- Citrus fruits
Everyday drinks like coffee and tea can also contribute to digestive problems, and alcohol can consumption has also been known to induce reflux.
Eating foods that contain probiotics, like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi can help to improve your gut health and increase the healthy bacteria in your biome, so try to introduce them into your diet as often as possible.
Even if you don’t currently struggle with any gastrointestinal conditions, it’s good to make better choices when it comes to your gut health. Keep in mind that a healthy gut has an impact on so many other things, including your immune system. By taking care of your gastrointestinal health, you’re taking care of your whole body. Making a few changes to your eating habits and avoiding foods that could trigger symptoms is a small price to pay for your health.
The stress caused by COVID-19 could be causing major problems for your stomach, especially if you’re already susceptible to gastrointestinal issues. So, one of the best things you can do to maintain your gut health is to reduce your stress and find some comfort. That might sound next to impossible during these uncertain times.
But, there are things you can do to experience relaxation every day. That includes things like getting enough sleep, creating a routine and schedule for yourself each day, connecting with others as often as possible (even if it’s via Zoom, a telephone call, or a FaceTime chat), and using techniques to remain focused on the present, like mindfulness and/or meditation. Letting yourself get too caught up in worries about the future can make you even more stressed, and a fear of the unknown won’t help you to manage those levels.
Self-care is more important than ever when the entire world seems to be a stress trigger. So, do what you can to be kind to yourself each day, and make a point to do something you enjoy.
Though there seems to be some home surrounding COVID-19, now that a vaccine has become available, there are still so many uncertainties, which causes continual stress. While you may not be able to eliminate that stress completely, maintaining your gut health throughout these trying times will help you to feel better mentally and physically, and allow you to stay strong despite the circumstances.Gut Health During the Stress of COVID-19