Understanding Gastro Health
There you stand, in front of the row of biscuits and you can hear them calling your name. Let's be honest, any time of the day or night, I can hear them whispering "Arlo, Arlo, Arlo." I tell you, it's a tough gig breaking it off with sugar. Luckily, my wonderful wife Emma stepped in and turned those whispers into murmurs. We became more aware of our dietary choices mainly for our kids, Lucas and Ava. But we realised that it wouldn't hurt us to lead by example, especially when it comes to maintaining good gastro health. It's an aspect of health that's not often chatted about but can become more significant as we age.
Understanding gastro health means getting intimate with your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a muscular tube that starts at the mouth and ends, you know where - No need for the graphic picture. It plays a crucial role in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. That might not sound very exciting but without it, we'd really be in the... well, you know.
Paying Attention to Symptoms
Let's face it when you start to age every little hitch, twitch or glitch in the system gets scrutinised. Unlike my old Ford Falcon's perpetual lit 'CHECK ENGINE' light, bodily signals actually mean something. When a song that played at your primary school disco gives you indigestion, it might not be nostalgia - it could be gastro distress. Paying attention to symptoms like heartburn, stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation should be taken seriously. These seemingly minor rumblings might be indicators of bigger GI issues. You don’t want to end up like Uncle Fred – every family gathering has him delivering an unsolicited lecture on his 10-year battle with haemorrhoids.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Before I met Emma, I'm certain that I was a camel in another life – I could go for an entire day on a mere sip of water and still chow down a meat pie. Drink more water? Hard pass. Emma, however, enlightened me on the importance of hydration for gastro health. It aids digestion, prevents constipation, and flushes toxins. The recommended 2 litre a day goal is a great target, but remember, unlike Lucas’s Fortnite, in the hydration game, it’s cool to exceed the target.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
Diet is key to maintaining good gastro health. Simple tweaks like opting for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can go a long way. The initial transition can be challenging, and you may have to withstand longing looks from the biscuit aisle. But, introducing dietary fibre gradually, can help with digestive regularity. You’ll feel less bloated and more energetic – who knows, you might finally win that family 5K Fun Run.
Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Remember Bob from down the street, our neighbourhood rockstar who could shotgun a beer in under 5 seconds? Yeah, that Bob – he now spends more time visiting the loo than enjoying one of his famous barbecues. Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can contribute to a range of GI problems, including stomach ulcers and liver diseases. It pays to moderate consumption and take care of your gastro health. These habits, like Bob's shotgunning days, might just need to stay in the past.
Who would've thought that working up a sweat with kettlebells could help your stomach? Regular exercise not only helps to maintain a healthy weight - which is good for your overall health – but it can actually boost your digestion. No, that doesn't mean power walking to the fridge during ad breaks. It has something to do with gravity and all that, but let's not delve into the physics. The moral of the story: a brisk walk after dinner instead of slouching in front of the tele doesn’t seem like a bad idea anymore.
Don’t Ignore Mental Health
Once upon a time, I was so stressed out that my stomach felt like a washing machine. Emma helped me realise the significance of mental health in our overall wellness. The brain-gut axis influences your digestion, mood, health, and even the way you think (or don't think) about biscuits. Practices like stress management, mindfulness and meditation can be beneficial for both your mental and gastro health.
Remember your annual visit to the doctor is not just about getting out of the office early. Regular check-ups can catch GI issues early and even prevent them. Besides, when things go south, a friendly medical professional is the best person to guide you through the gut health maze.
Trusting my own journey, putting health at the forefront transformed my life, stomach-wise and otherwise. So to all the Arlos out there, it's time to hush the sweet calls of sugar and listen to your tummies. And remember, the journey to great gastro health doesn't have to be a bland, solo ride – I am lucky to share mine with Emma and our kids, you don’t have to go solo. It's a lifestyle change, an exploration, and every bite of it can be savoured.