Did you know your brain and digestive system talk to each other? “The ‘mind-gut connection’ influences how you think and feel – and that communication is a two-way street,” said Elizabeth Raskin, M.D., surgical director for the Margolis Family Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Program within Hoag’s Digestive Health Institute. “Think of the marathon runner so nervous to start a race that they run to the bathroom first. Or the way a Thanksgiving feast can leave you feeling sluggish and a bit irritable.
How can you make sure your mind and gut are “talking nice?” Dr. Raskin has a few tips:
Start with your mouth. The foods we eat play a big role in how we feel and how our bodies perform. Keep portions small and packed with fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid processed foods and foods containing excessive sugar. And drink up! “Hydration is key for intestinal motility, so aim for 64-80 ounces daily of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids,” Dr. Raskin said.
Be pro probiotics. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help breakdown foods to maintain or restore the natural pH balance of your gut. They’re found in certain fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and kimchi. “They also come in over-the-counter pills, but ask your doctor what form of probiotic is right for you,” Dr. Raskin said.
Chill out. Stress-reducing activities such as walking, yoga, meditation, and listening to music not only enhance your well-being, they promote good digestion! “Creating peace within allows our bodies to perform their best,” Dr. Raskin said.
Want to learn more about how your brain and your gut can influence each other? Visit https://www.hoag.org/specialties-services/digestive-health/ or call 949-764-8379.