I talk with my clients a lot about the puzzle pieces that all need to come together for good overall health. A balanced diet, restorative sleep, appropriate movement, and stress management are key components when considering a person’s gut healing journey.
But did you know that these components that are so vital to gut health might look different as the seasons change?
Think about it—summer is associated with heat, light, and movement. In the summer months we find ourselves outside more, soaking in the sunshine, eating refreshing foods, and looking for creative ways to keep cool. During the winter months, as the days grow shorter, there’s a tendency to hunker down, hibernate, and eat heavier foods that bring comfort and warmth.
As we head into the heat of summer, it’s important to consider how those puzzle pieces might be affected by the season. So…what does this mean for you right now? Here are some things to consider:
As you spend time in the heat, make sure you’re drinking enough water. And if you’re looking for a substitute for soda or a sugary drink (which I HIGHLY recommend!), check your local grocery store for Kombucha. This fermented, carbonated drink is full of probiotics and research shows it can promote gut health.
Eat With The Season
Nutrient-dense foods are the foundation of a strong immune system and fiber is essential to gut health (even for those of us with digestive issues). You can fuel your body with both by building your meals around the season’s fresh produce. Leafy greens topped with grilled asparagus, chopped apples or blueberries make for the perfect summer salad. Add some grilled salmon or chicken for protein. Get creative and make it as colorful as possible!If your digestive issues make it hard to process fresh produce in its natural form, try blending it into a delicious smoothie or cooking then mashing it into a soup form to make it easier to digest.
As much as we enjoy the longer days of summer, those extra hours of daylight can wreak havoc on bedtime. Be aware of the impact that this season might have on your sleep schedule. You might find yourself staying up later because it’s hard to unwind at the end of the day, but sleep is the time that the body recuperates and heals itself. Research shows that disrupted sleep can negatively impact our metabolism, thus shifting our eating habits and digestion. Be consistent with your sleep routines and practice good sleep hygiene. Keep the room cool, dark and avoid screen time at least an hour before bed.
Scientists have discovered that consistent exercise can positively impact the gut’s microbiomes. One particular study showed that six weeks of exercise led to the production of inflammation-fighting tools within the gut. This same study showed that, when the test participants returned to their sedentary lifestyles, their gut stopped producing these important tools. Keeping that in mind, plan to get moving every day. The gorgeous days of summer can be a great motivator. Hiking, biking, and kayaking are just a few fun outdoor activities to get your heart rate up. Enjoy the weather, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen!
While summer is the perfect time to make outdoor exercise a priority, it’s also a great time to be still to relax and rejuvenate. Getting out into nature can have a powerful impact on stress levels and meditating outside can be a really amazing experience. Research shows that stress affects gut health and digestive symptoms. If you’re feeling stressed from multi-tasking, anxious about finances or stressed about the future, set aside some time to get outside to just sit and breathe. If you’re new to meditation and are struggling to quiet your mind, apps like Calm or the Insight Timer could be just what you need. And remember that meditation doesn’t have to be a completely still practice. Walking meditation is yet another way to benefit from this mind-quieting practice.
Remember that every person’s gut healing journey is unique. Be patient as you find the right balance of these key components for you this summer. And if I can do anything to support you, don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to help! You can schedule your free Telehealth consultation here.
Dr. Troy Willis
The Unfortunate Expert