Staying active seems to be the answer for solving most physical predicaments these days. However, people tend to forget that the result of vigourous exercise is still stress, albeit the good kind. Like everything else, excessive habits can be detrimental to the body, specifically the gut. A gut that’s stressed beyond its limitations can result in undesirable effects by way of its flora, which then upsets the normal function of the body.
In most cases, exercising actually improves the state of the gut by encouraging a healthy metabolism and improving insulin sensitivity. Trouble only starts to occur when this is taken to the extreme. Emulating the training styles of elite or professional athletes can often spell disaster for the average individual, simply due to the fact that they are unaccustomed and unconditioned for the demands of training.
When this happens, the body is placed on perpetual “red alert”, having to constantly pull double-shifts in order to ensure that it’s able to recover in time. One of the side effects of this is the loosening of one’s intestinal barrier, whose function is to deter debris like food particles from getting through. This results in intestinal permeability, also known as a leaky gut. Aside from an increase in inflammation, having a leaky guy can also make you more susceptible to auto-immune disorders, metabolic diseases and even mood disorders.
Here are some ways you can restore the peace and balance in your gut for optimal overall well-being:
Too much exercising can cause inflammation in your body, and a damaged gut will only make things worse. To counter this, fill your diet with food that contain anti-inflammatory compounds. Such food includes wild salmon, walnuts and other plant-based foods that are rich in omega-3s. At the same time, strive to reduce your intake of sugar and starches as they can exacerbate an already-compromised digestive system.
Sleep is important as it is the only time the body is able to repair and recover. It does so by optimising natural body functions such as detoxification, tissue repair, clearing build-ups in the brain and many others. As such, it also helps to repair the gut so that the healthy bacteria can help fuel these processes. Whether you’re an athlete or not, having sufficient and optimal sleep will benefit your overall well-being.
3. Recover lost flora
The body can be thrown off-balance if the count of native gut bacteria is significantly reduced. To recover these essential microbes, foods such as kimchi, natto, Greek yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and probiotic-rich vegetables can help supplement and heal your digestive state. The restored microbiome will then bring your gut back to its normal function.
4. Reduce stress
High amounts of chronic stress can cause inflammatory reactions in the body, which can further aggravate the microbiome. Employ methods and exercises such as yoga, tai chi or using essential oils to bring down stress levels. Even a simple stroll will do wonders in terms of relaxing your mind and body. Lifting your mood will allow your body to prioritise physical recovery without having to worry about intangible issues.
While you’re resolving these issues, it may be a good idea to either lower the intensity of your training sessions or opt for a more relaxing way of staying active instead. Your body doesn’t fight well on two fronts, so it wouldn’t be wise to pile on the physical labour while it’s busy fixing itself.
The gut is filled with good bacteria that optimise bodily functions. Unfortunately, excessive exercise can lead to a nasty imbalance in what is an already delicate environment. Take it from eight-time Mr Olympia, Lee Haney: “Train to stimulate, not annilhilate!”