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8 Tips for Improving Your Gut for a Healthy Summer

Discover how the heat can impact your gut health

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Photo: Shutterstock

Summer is a time to focus on fun, vacations, and some relaxation. Sometimes we can get wrapped up in all the fun and forget to take care of ourselves—our gut health in particular. Gut health has a major influence on how the rest of the body performs. If your digestion becomes sluggish, it can cause everything else to slow down as well. 

The summer can be especially harsh on our microbiomes since the heat can cause disturbances even if we are doing everything else right. To avoid any complications, think about improving your gut with these handy tips, and your health should follow. 

1. Keep Hydrated

Hydration is the number one thing to focus on for overall body health, and especially gut health. Dehydration is extremely common around the world. There are two main types of dehydration: water-loss dehydration and salt- and water-loss dehydration. 

When we sweat, we run the risk of the salt and water loss type of dehydration. If you usually struggle to keep hydrated, here are some ways you can try to increase your water intake:

  • Get a water bottle that holds your goal amount of water for the day and mark it with time stamps on when you should drink more water.
  • Get a hydration app that sends you reminders on your phone.
  • If you don’t want to get an app, just set timer reminders.
  • Set goals for yourself on days you know you’ll be busy to drink X amount of water.
  • Try mindfulness practices so you check in with your body more frequently to become more aware of its needs.
  • Throw some chopped fruits or veggies in your water to add flavor and nutrients.

2. Take Breaks From the Heat

The heat significantly affects your gut health by disturbing the balance of microbes within. That’s why if you’ve ever spent the whole day in the sun, you may have looser bowel movements later in the day.

Allow yourself time in the sun to soak in the rays and vitamin D, but make sure you take breaks in the shade or indoors to help your core body temperature remain safe. 

Too much sun can cause sunburn, sun poisoning, heat exhaustion, and/or heat stroke. 

3. Exercise During the Cooler Parts of the Day

Exercise is an important part of keeping your gut healthy. Studies show that when you consistently do moderate workouts, your microbial diversity increases. This is important, because it means you have more healthy strains of bacteria to keep your body working optimally.

Heat exhaustion can happen quickly, so exercising when the sun isn’t at its peak is important to keep your body from overheating. Exercise in the morning or evening when the sun isn’t quite so potent.

4. Eat Healthy and Fresh Foods—Especially Those that Contain Polyphenols and Fiber

A well-balanced diet tends to take a back burner when you’re traveling or doing any kind of relaxing. It’s easier to grab something quick or that won’t spoil while you’re traveling. But your gut will thank you if you take the extra time to make healthy choices. 

Keeping fruits and vegetables on hand—especially ones that contain high water content to improve your hydration—are easy to grab and provide you with polyphenols. 

Polyphenols are important in the summer because they:

  • Help protect you from damage from the sun’s rays
  • Offer your body antioxidants to scavenge reactive oxygen species
  • Feed your good bacteria and allow them to produce essential molecules to protect your body from disease
  • Provide your body with dietary fiber that is essential to healthy digestion

You can get polyphenols from any foods that come from plants like seeds, nuts, fruits, flowers, etc.

5. Avoid Foods that Could be Spoiled

If a food has the potential to go bad in the heat, it can cause problems for not only your tummy but the rest of your trip. Keep foods on hand that are safe even in extreme heat. 

Contaminated water and spoiled foods are the main causes of traveler’s diarrhea. This is dangerous because it can lead to malnutrition and hospitalization. 

6. Limit the Fatty, Spicy, and Highly Processed Foods

These foods are so easy to grab and eat, but they cause a lot of problems. They oftentimes disrupt your digestion and can disturb the balance of your microbes. While you don’t have to avoid them completely—especially if they’re your favorite guilty pleasure—eat them in moderation and take care when you do.

7. Protect Yourself From Germs — Especially at Public Pools

We are all on high alert about germs with COVID-19 still being a lurking predator. But it can take our attention away from places that have germs that we aren’t really thinking about. 

Public pools are one of the places that we often see microbial disturbances happen. The main issues with public pools are:

  • Chlorine can kill off your healthy bacteria
  • The obvious germs
  • Other swimmers that aren’t taking the proper precautions

Read more about how public pools affect your gut health here.

8. Take Prebiotics, Probiotics, and/or Postbiotics

Sometimes you’ll run into a situation where you can’t avoid doing one of the many things that can disturb your gut balance. So, to help your body prepare for the dangers of the unknown, learn about the foods and supplements you can take and how they can help improve your gut and immune health

Prebiotics are foods or supplements that feed our good bacteria. This helps them to multiply and create more healthy strains on their own. (See an assortment of options from Atrantil here.)

Probiotics are live strains of bacteria that people ingest. They are great because you’re adding the bacteria right into your body. However, they can become dangerous and cause infections if someone isn’t a good candidate to take them. They also might not make it to your gut unless they’re a specific kind of probiotic

Postbiotics are the molecules that our good bacteria release after fermenting foods. You can get them from foods that contain prebiotics or in supplement form. 

The summer is so full of fun and memory-making times. Don’t let an unhealthy gut slow you down.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.