Good nutrition is not just about keeping your body in shape, but it’s also about keeping your digestive system in check. Two out of three Americans suffer from digestive issues such as food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, acid reflux, abdominal pains, and the famous bloating! If these are common symptoms you experience, chances are, you may need to pay attention to what you’re eating and make some changes for your digestive health.
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria that play a crucial role in our overall health. These bacteria help break down food, produce essential nutrients, and even support our immune system. But when we consume too much sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats, we can disrupt the balance of these bacteria and negatively impact our gut health.
TIPS FOR A HAPPY GUT
Keeping your gut healthy can be simple by ensuring you’re eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients, fiber, and probiotics. Here are a few tips to get you feeling good:
• Include plenty of fruits, colorful vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your meals.
• Choose healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds instead of saturated and trans fats.
• Drink plenty of water, limit sugary drinks, and alcohol.
• Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut into your diet.
• Adding a prebiotic or probiotic supplement may help improve your gut health. (Prebiotics supply nutrients that support the proliferation of favorable gut bacteria, while probiotics consist of live beneficial microorganisms.)
GUT LUCKY SMOOTHIE
Let’s bring on the luck of the Irish and cheers to celebrating your health this month with a delicious smoothie that your tummy will love.
This smoothie recipe supports your gut health and aids in good digestion. It’s packed with ingredients that are high in fiber, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory compounds that are easy to digest. Get your blender ready for a tasty treat!
• 1 cup spinach
• 1 banana
• 1 cup frozen pineapple
• 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (omit if yogurt bothers your tummy)
• 1 tsp ginger (use real ginger root if possible)
• 4-5 mint leaves
• 1 tsp chia seeds
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened nut milk of choice)
• 1 tsp honey (if you prefer sweetness)
1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
2. If the texture is too thick, add more almond milk for your desired consistency.
3. Cheers and Enjoy!
DIGESTIVE FLOW WORKOUT
Nutrition is not the only way to support your gut health. Movement also plays a role in helping and improving digestion. This routine includes light strength, cardio, and flexibility exercises to help you when you’re feeling bloated or your tummy just… hurts.
Set Up: Low-Medium Level, Squat Stand attached
• Perform the exercises listed in a flowing sequence on your Total Gym.
• Feel free to do them in any order, however, they’re sequenced to transition smoothly.
• Reps and sets are NOT the focus in this workout. Rather, focus on breathing and moving fluidly throughout the exercises to promote increased circulation.
• The goal is to “feel good” upon completion.
1. Jumps/ Hops/ Squats
Benefits: Any type of continuous, light hopping movement or cardio exercise can get the blood flowing and help move “stuck” food through the digestive system.
• Perform a series of jump squats, alternating single leg hops, pendulum hops, etc. on your Total Gym. (Be creative and move.)
• Activate the core by keeping your spine imprinted on the glideboard and utilize a consistent breath pattern while flowing through the movements.
• Be sure to land soft through the feet and absorb the landing each rep.
• Continue for a set period of time to increase your heart rate and promote circulation.
• If jumps/hops aren’t your thing, no worries! Perform a series of continuous squats instead.
2. Bicycle March/Crunches
Benefits: Helps to massage the digestive organs and improve circulation.
• Same supine position in #1. If your hips shifted, reposition hips to the bottom of the glideboard and place feet on the squat stand.
• Simultaneously crunch up and rotate the upper body while bending the opposite knee towards the chest.
• Reposition and repeat on the other side.
• Continue this bicycle marching motion to work the core through the waistline.
• Option to advance the exercise into an unsupported bicycle crunch with the upper and lower body lifted while executing the pedaling motion.
• Remember to utilize the breath throughout the entire exercise.
3. Hug Knees to Chest
Benefits: Helps stimulate the colon and relieve gas in the intestinal track.
• Lie on the glideboard with your head towards the vertical column, feet towards the bottom rails. (Adjust the incline if it’s too steep.)
Bend the knees and hug towards the chest. The tighter you can compress the thighs against the tummy, the better. (Think of this as a stomach massage).
• Keep the knees hugged in and gently rock the lower body from side to side or hug them tight while breathing into the stretch.
• Release and repeat as desired.
4. Seated or Supine Twist
Benefits: Helps to stimulate the digestive tract and relieve bloating.
• Sit on the GB (facing towards the bottom rails) with the legs straddled and feet flat on the floor.
• Note: Incline is placed at a low or medium level, depending on your height. (Your hips should be slightly higher than your knees).
• Lengthen your spine as you rotate your torso to the right side and place your left hand on your right knee. Use the hand to knee connection to twist further into the stretch.
• Hold for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.
5. Cat-Cow | Forward Fold Stretch
Benefits: Helps massage and stimulate the digestive organs while moving through the spine.
• This is a 2-part move.
• First, start in a quadruped (all fours) position facing the vertical column.
• Alternate between arching your back (cow) and rounding it (cat). Utilize your breath on each movement while activating through the core.
• Perform approximately 4 cycles of cat-cow, then transition into forward fold by straddling the glideboard (GB) and placing the feet flat on the floor. Position the hands on the sides on the GB with arms extended.
• Second, open the GB with arms extended and simultaneously hinge from the hips as you fold forward into the stretch.
• Hold for a few breaths, move the hips, rotate the spine… explore the movement to feel where your body needs the most stretch.
• Return to the quadruped position and repeat as desired.
Extras: Walking is one of the best low-impact exercises you can do to help circulate your body’s blood flow and help move food through the digestive system.
*Be sure to check out the video demonstration to see how these gut-happy exercises are performed on your Total Gym.
Remember, good nutrition, consistent movement, and healthy habits are the foundation of a healthy body and a happy gut. So, let’s celebrate National Nutrition Month by making small changes to our diets and lifestyles that will benefit our health in the long run.
May the luck of the Irish be with you!
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PS Are you Spring Break ready? Get motivated to shed those extra pounds and feel great in your skin with effective workouts that help you achieve your goals! It’s a perfect plan to start your journey to a slimmer, fitter, and more confident you, plus it’s a great way to compliment this National Nutrition Month blog! Stay tuned!