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These Are The Gut-Friendly Habits This Gastroenterologist Is Focusing On Now

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Person With Arms Crossed Over Stomach

With a new year quickly approaching (seriously, how did we get here?), it's possible that the idea of healthy habits have drifted in and out of your mind. And since we never recommend overhauling your entire routine to begin a new one (that's pretty much a recipe for goal-setting disaster), why not start adopting a few attainable and healthy habits now? Whatever makes resolution season easier, no?

One important place to start is with the gut. So, here are some of the gut-friendly habits gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, M.D., plans to adopt right now—you know, in case you need some new year inspiration:

1. Paying attention to nutrition. 

In the coming year, Sonpal plans to be more mindful of his own food choices by following a 16:8 intermittent fasting regimen and incorporating more probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants into his dishes. Here's what that might look like:

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Four targeted strains to beat bloating and support regularity*

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Probiotics: While Sonpal says he already gets plenty of certain strains of probiotics through yogurt, he wants to increase the diversity in his sources. Adding more fermented foods and drinks, like kimchi, kombucha, miso, and tempeh could do the trick. Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement daily is also a good insurance policy for your gut health, too.*

Prebiotics: Less thought of but equally important are prebiotics. These unique fibers "bolster the good bacteria so they can push the bad bacteria out," Sonpal explains. Prebiotics can be found in foods like apples, sauerkraut, asparagus, garlic, onion, leafy greens, artichokes, and green bananas, to name a few. 

Antioxidants: "The role for antioxidants is vast," Sonpal tells mbg. "Primarily, for their protective role against oxidative stress that occurs through general day-to-day activities." Good sources of antioxidants include berries, salmon, spinach, red bell peppers, dark chocolate, and turmeric, which Sonpal says he will likely incorporate into his tea. Increasing intake of turmeric supports healthy inflammatory pathways, overall and also in the gut, he says.* "[I am a person] who comes from India, [and] turmeric is a big part of our culture," Sonpal adds.

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2. Moving every single day.

The overarching stress of "having to work out" actually discourages most people from doing it. With a general shift of working out from home within the past year or so, Sonpal learned that "you can get a 20-minute workout at home, every day, in the privacy of your own basement, while reruns of Schitt's Creek play in the background." Sounds not only doable but also super enjoyable.

Rather than setting lofty fitness resolutions, Sonpal is, and urges you, to simply commit to daily movement. Going for a walk, taking a few downward dogs, or playing recreational sports are all effective ways to sneak in exercise.

3. Managing stress.

Though the stress hormone cortisol has its benefits, "too much of a quote-unquote good thing, is not such a good thing," he states. And because gut health and mental health are so interconnected, limiting stress may support healthy digestion, promote regularity, and ease bloat.

"Exercise, yoga, therapy, mental health exercises, sex—do whatever it is that you need to do to reduce that emotional burden," Sonpal advises.

probiotic+
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(53)
probiotic+

probiotic+

Four targeted strains to beat bloating and support regularity*

probiotic+

probiotic+

Four targeted strains to beat bloating and support regularity*

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(53)
probiotic+

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