A quick refresher, the gut comprises every organ involved in the consumption, processing, and expulsion of food. However there is a lot more to the gut than just food. The gut is also responsible for a large portion of your immune system, producing neurotransmitters, and synthesising vitamins.
A key part of the gut are the colonies of bacteria known as the microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome is unique to them and consists of different types and numbers of bacteria. This microbiome is becoming more and more prominent in medical literature as research uncovers more about what it does. Current research believes that the microbiome manages our digestion, mood, mind, and overall health.
Luckily for us, exercise positively impacts our gut and microbiome, and likewise a sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor digestion. Exercise aids food digestion, improves motility (which avoids constipation), and is involved in the equilibrium of the microbiota. Exercise can also help to reduce reflux and keep the lining of our gut healthy.
What exercise is best?
For your gut health, the best kind of exercise is regular exercise. Consistency matters far more than specific style. The more you are able to make moving part of your daily ritual, the more your gut will thank you. Low intensity activities such as walking and yoga have been shown to improve outcomes in patients with IBS.
When you do exercise, don’t forget to take a moment to stretch. Stretching helps to promote digestion and reduce bloating. If you know you’re going to have a large meal, or a meal with foods you don't usually eat, a post meal walk will help your body to digest that food. If you do want to do more vigorous exercise, make sure you wait about 2 hours after your meal before doing a high intensity workout.