These days, the list of things wreaking havoc on our digestive systems can appear endless — alcohol, sugary snacks and stress, we're looking at you.
It can seem almost impossible to try and get your gut in balance, particularly if your weekends are filled with kids' birthday events and dinner parties with friends.
A recent study by Danone revealed that 90 per cent* of modern-day Australian women admit to experiencing regular episodes of digestive discomfort — one of the most telling symptoms of an unhappy gut.
If you find yourself suffering with symptoms like rumbling, discomfort and bloating, chances are your gut is in need of some serious attention. To help you get your gut health back on track, we've rounded up five easy ways to help you regain a happy tummy.
Incorporate more probiotics into your diet
Probiotics are an important part of any nutritious diet, as they promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits, including easing digestive discomfort.
While you can turn to supplements to get in your daily dose of probiotic goodness, a probiotic-rich yoghurt is one of the easiest (and tastiest ways) to introduce healthy bacteria into your daily diet.
However, not all yoghurts actually contain probiotics, so it's important to choose wisely when you're tossing up options in the supermarket aisle. For example, available in a range of delicious flavours and with no added sugar, Activia Probiotic yoghurt proves a great choice. Now for the science bit: Packed with 4.4 billion exclusive probiotics called Bifidus Actiregularis (that survive through the stomach and reach the intestines alive), the yoghurt's formula has even been scientifically proven to help improve digestive comfort**.
Try pairing yoghurt with banana, pear and a homemade granola for a healthy breakfast dish that packs a probiotic punch.
Cut down your alcohol intake
There's nothing better than wrapping up a busy week with a few drinks with friends or a night in with a classic rom-com and glass of wine. While alcohol may play a key part in both social events and at-home relaxation, a few too many weekly Sav blancs can actually have a detrimental effect on your gut health.
Consuming alcohol in higher amounts than recommended can actually suppress the good bacteria living in your gut. Not only that, it can even encourage the bad bacteria in your tummy to multiply!
While this may seem alarming, it's not to say you should curb drinking all together (phew), but you might want to think about reducing the amount you drink on a weekly basis and swapping out that extra gin and tonic for a glass of soda water instead.
Drink more water
From helping to control sugar cravings to relieving the body of toxins and assisting in the maintenance of healthy bowel movements, water actually plays a vital part in keeping a healthy gut. So, if you're currently experiencing the symptoms of an unhealthy gut, increasing your water intake may be a good idea to give digestive discomfort the boot, once and for all.
Your body loses a lot of essential fluids as you sleep so try drinking one to two glasses of water every morning before you leave the house. If you start your morning with a big cup of coffee, don't forget to hydrate as well.
Keeping a water bottle in your bag or on your desk can also act as a helpful reminder to get in those vital litres of H2O. If you're someone that struggles to drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day, opt for fruit and vegetables with a high water percentage, as well as teas and fresh juice that will help to contribute to your daily intake.
Switch-out unhealthy snacks
A busy morning at work or one spent running after the kids can call for an afternoon pick-me-up around 3pm. This often comes in the form of a takeaway coffee or trip to the vending machine.
While these may seem like tasty and effective options to boost your energy levels, they certainly aren't the healthiest, and both can have negative effects on your gut health.
A diet that is high in processed foods and added sugars can actually decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. This can lead you to feeling bloated, lethargic and actually increase your sugar cravings, perpetuating a vicious snacking cycle!
To help satisfy those afternoon cravings, why not seek out a healthy and delicious snack that can help improve your digestive comfort**? Containing no added sugar, a pot of Activia yoghurt is a smart energy-boosting alternative to a sugar-loaded chocolate bar. With a variety of flavours available, like mango and mixed berries, there is something to suit everyone's taste.
Between school drop-offs, full-time work and household chores, taking the time out to exercise daily likely falls to the bottom of your priority list. While the routine walk from the office to your regular lunch spot might serve as your daily dose of cardio, putting aside an extra half an hour to get your heart-rate pumping can do wonders for your overall wellbeing, particularity your gut health.
Cardio-based exercises — think walking the dog, cycling and even at-home circuits — are great for your metabolic health, helping to aid digestion and stimulate bowel movement.
If you're someone that struggles to find the motivation to exercise, try downloading a workout app on your phone and using it once or twice a week. Slowly build up your routine and before you know it, you'll be addicted to getting physical!
Sponsored by Danone Activia
*Based on a quantitative survey of nationally representative interviews of women aged 18-64years (N=430), conducted in September 2018.
**Consuming 2 pots of Activia 125g a day for 4 weeks while maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can help improve digestive comfort.