Tips for health

Psychological well-being:

A key to being able to cope with problems associated with the gut is reducing psychological stress, this can be accomplished in several ways:

  • Ensure that you engage in activities that allow you to relax. For example making time to meditate, go for a walk, engage in slow monitored breathing and/or progressive muscle relaxation, etc.
  • Stop 'wishing' the situation will change - act in a proactive way.
  • Stop criticizing what happens as a consequence of gut related problems and concentrate on 'how' to solve the problems.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Identify a set of simple activities you can do that will reinforce positive feelings. Set time aside for yourself to read a book, magazine, newspaper, etc.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself. Once a goal is achieved, develop a new one.
  • Talk to someone when you need advice or help.

Physical well-being:

  • A healthy diet is essential to keep the gut in proper order. Standard dietary recommendations suggest that adults should consume, on average, five servings of vegetables; two servings of dairy products; one serving of meat products; two servings of fruit; and four servings of cereal or grains per day. However, it is recommended if you have a gut related condition, that you get advice from your health practitioner and a registered dietician.
  • Due to the problems associated with eating at irregular times, it is suggested that individuals organise a set regular times to eat. By setting a specific time at which to eat, it allows the body to habituate to expect food; even while other meals can be eaten at more irregular times.
  • Try to have at least one meal per day with family.
  • Exercise is important. It is recommended that you exercise regularly, around 20 minutes per day. This exercise does not have to be vigorous it can just involve light exercise, such as walk around a park or the block. Exercise has several beneficial effects on the gut, including improved digestion and intake of key nutrients. Exercise also has the benefit of promoting sleep quality and quantity and can and increases appetite.
  • If you are taking a medication, talk to your GP about the best times to take it and the possible side-effects.

Sleep:

Sleep is an important process, without it individuals can become not only fatigued, but less able to fight of infection and exacerbate chronic conditions. Several strategies have been found to help individuals improve their quality and quality of sleep:

  • Have a regular routine (also called sleep hygiene) before bed, irrespective of sleeping during the day or night. For example, having a shower or bath, spending 30 minutes relaxing (e.g., meditation, light exercise, reading a book), clean teeth, etc then go to bed at a set time. By keeping a regular routine, the body learns when it is expected to sleep (or when it is wanted).
  • The best sleeping environment is one that is cool constant temperature, good airflow, dark and quiet. If there is outside noise, a constant background noise may help you sleep (e.g., relaxation tapes, radio).
  • Coffee or tea consumption should stop at least 2 to 4 hours before you to go to sleep. Coffee and tea can also exacerbate gut related symptoms.
  • Avoid smoking before going to bed, its chemicals can provide a stimulatory effect therefore decreasing the ability to sleep. Smoking can also exacerbate gut related symptoms.