Everyone seems to be on a health kick these days. Good gut health vs. bad gut health, as well as the gut-friendly exercises and foods, all appear to be the rage on social media and online searches. People are going gaga over the latest health-based benefits that they can get from organic foods and solid grains.
A good way to get all this done is by doing core strength exercises in the gym or at home. This is especially important for people who have a sedentary lifestyle and are battling obesity or excessive weight gain. We shall also check how changing your eating habits and switching to gut-friendly diets can help you have better health.
Our digestive system is the key to good health and longevity. It has the sole responsibility of digesting the food and drinks that we intake every day. The digestive system carries out the following processes:
1. Ingestion and digestion of foods
2. Secretion of digestive enzymes
3. Breaking the food and extracting energy molecules from it
4. Absorption of the nutrients
5. Removal of waste and toxic elements
We are a society characterized by stress, toxic environments, fast foods, and sugary drinks, some obvious factors that have caused a multifold increase in viral infections and the use of antibiotics. None of these are conducive to good digestive health. Millions of dollars are spent each year trying to avoid bloating and constipation in the antacids, laxatives, enzymes, and fiber we purchase.
You can improve gut health and digestion by making simple diet changes and doing a couple of exercises to strengthen the core. One simple way to get this done is by eating probiotic foods that help in the digestive process to sustain the gut flora or microbiome.
Lower back pain is often felt because of weakness in either the abdominal or the lower back muscles. You can always expect cardiovascular exercise to focus your energy momentarily on your abdominal muscles, thus waking them up. They can also boost your heart rate and power up your digestive system, thus driving toxic wastes out of your body.
Here are the benefits that you can enjoy from having a strong core:
The key is to stay focused and disciplined. As you choose to work out at home or in a gym, you can make incremental fitness plans for each part like your abdominal, lower body, and chest, etc. Most virtual fitness experts would ask you to start with the core first because it is the hardest part of your body to work on and you would take some time to get going with it.
This is of special concern when you are obese or are overweight, and you are making it worse with an indulgent lifestyle. If you work on your midsection, you can count on nothing less than a well-toned set of abs and chest. Your digestive and immune systems too would start working better.
Most of the attention that is paid to the abdominal muscles is directed toward the 6-pack. This group of muscles covers the abdominal cavity and houses the organs from the bottom of the ribs to the navel. This task is assisted by several other muscles in the abdominal region to provide strength to the core.
Women who go through pregnancy will experience dramatic distension of this muscle allowing for the growth of the baby. Quite often post-pregnancy, the muscle does not return to its original shape and strength. Exercises targeting this muscle can help in strengthening it and returning it to a flatter shape.
There are many muscles of the back as it is very large and complex. But when it comes to the core, the muscle of interest is the lower back muscle or erector spine. These are two muscles on either side of the spine attaching to the hip bones or pelvis. Pain in the lower back can be due to:
A weakness in the lower back muscles
A weakness in the abdominal muscles causing lower back pain
Standing for extended periods will often cause lower back pain especially with weak lower back muscles. You can do some crunches and oblique exercises every day to address this issue:
While lying on your back on a bench, lift your shoulders upwards just a few inches, enough to feel the full contraction of the rectus abdominis or 6-pack. As there are 3 “rows” of muscles forming this group, there are 3 variations to completely work the area and this is based upon leg positioning. This is also a good exercise to strengthen your core at home.
Here are the three variations of crunches:
Forming a 90-degree angle between the upper and lower legs to work the top row
Lowering the legs to form a 45-degree angle will target the middle row
Feet flat on the floor targets the lower row
You can also do Obliques with the same movement, except that the body should be turned slightly to one side and then to the other. It would also help you tone your core at home.
You can exercise the lower abdominals by lying flat on either a bench or the floor. The beginning position is with the legs together vertically in the air. You should be able to feel your tailbone against the bench or floor.
Slowly move your feet over your face while maintaining the legs outstretched. This contracts the muscle when done slowly.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to add Lacto-fermented foods to your diet. To improve digestion, one must find a balance between the beneficial bacteria and the disease-causing bacteria that naturally occur in your gut. Such good bacteria are called gut flora and are important for our well-being.
Adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough bread, kombucha, and milk or water kefir increases lactic acid-producing bacteria (found mostly in probiotic supplements), creating an environment that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. They also help in improving digestion.
The four top benefits of adding Lacto-fermented foods to your diet are:
Fermented foods ease digestion by regulating stomach acid in the gut.
Acetylcholine increases the movement of the bowel and aids in the reduction of constipation. Increasing the production of acetylcholine improves digestion.
Carbohydrates in lactic acid-fermented foods are broken down, which decreases the burden on the pancreas and improves its function.
Many disease-causing bacteria are sensitive to an acidic environment and increasing lactic acid bacteria in the gut eliminates them.
Contains natural probiotics that improve the immune system and aids in digestion. It has many beneficial enzymes and a high amount of vitamin C. Often touted as a superfood.
Contains a culture of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that naturally occur in bread. It requires hours of fermentation but increases the lactic acid bacteria that promote healthy bacteria in the gut.
A naturally fermented probiotic beverage rich in living colonies of good bacteria and yeast. Research indicates that it fights candida overgrowth and improves digestion. Kombucha contains antioxidants that boost the immune system and slow down aging.
The two health drinks are rich in Lactobacillus, probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and micro-and macronutrients. They also promote bowel movements and increase bile production to improve the liver and gallbladder.
Drinking enough water and eating the right foods go a long way in improving digestion and promoting good gut health. Adding Lacto-fermented foods to your diet will reduce abdominal bloating and discomfort, belching, and other symptoms caused by a stressed digestive system.
During the process of food digestion, solid food is ingested, processed, digested, and excreted. Soluble fiber will combine with the mixture aiding in the absorption of the nutrients. Insoluble fiber allows for smooth passage of the mixture through the digestive tract.
This process prevents a build-up of solid waste causing bloating and cramping. And if moving through the GI tract is too slow, it may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. In some cases, a more chronic condition called diverticulosis may also occur. This may require medical intervention.
You would have also seen that drinking a glass of warm water or a cup of green tea early morning often gets most people started. Hydration of the body is opposite to dehydration. It can reduce the problems with digestion like the retention of solid waste in the digestive system. Drinking enough water removes toxic wastes from the body, thus easing constipation.
None of this reduces the importance of eating right and working out regularly. Both these habits help keep the body in top shape by providing it enough nutrition and using the stored fat as energy, thus keeping you fitter. We recommend you get in touch with a virtual health professional to get a personalized diet plan for yourself for the best results.
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