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Understanding How the Change in Weather Can Impact Your Gut Health

Human health can be affected due to various external factors, and change in weather or seasons is one of them. Cold and flu mostly spreads in the winter season, allergies worsen during spring and joint pains come back when the temperature reduces. The gut tends to get the most affected due to the change of seasons, so issues like heartburn, acidity, abdominal pain, etc., are common around this time of the year.

That is why it is important to understand seasonal patterns and fluctuations and how they can affect gut health and the digestive system. In this blog, we will talk about how weather changes can impact your gut and what you can do to take care of it.

How Does the Change in Seasons Affect Gut Health?

The gut microbiome changes throughout the year depending on the food you eat. Studies have shown variations in the microbiome in sync with the seasons. That is how it gets affected by seasons:-

1. Heat Stress

In summer, the body goes through dehydration, loss of appetite, etc. It is common when the temperature is too high. Hot weather affects the digestive ability and leads to a loss of appetite. Heat also significantly affects the intestinal microbiota.

It reduces the count of Firmicutes (a group of Gram-positive bacteria), and the genera Lactobacillus and bifidobacterial, which are usually dominant and needed in normal conditions. These species are crucial for gut health as they help protect against pathogen invasion. Heat stress also inhibits the growth of Ruminococcus faecis, Clostridium butyricum, Clostridium leptum and Phascolarctobacterium, which decrease the growth of short-chain fatty acids responsible for several body processes.

2. Monsoon Stress

During monsoons, apart from rain and beautiful weather, you also welcome germs, infections and allergies. The immune and digestive systems tend to get vulnerable during this time of the year. This is because the humid weather in the rainy season slows down your body’s system, making them sluggish. That makes gastric problems like ulcers, gastroenteritis, indigestion, bloating, and acidity common. All these problems majorly occur due to food poisoning and infections through food and water.

3. Cold Stress

During winters, we tend to move less and drink less water, both of which can contribute to constipation and bloating. That is because cold temperatures can cause your body to slow down to save energy and keep the body warm. But, that makes the metabolism slow and digestion difficult.

There is a slight increase in caloric intake and sometimes a significant increase for some people during winter. It leads to reduced physical activity and increased body mass index than in summer. All these components contribute to slow digestion. And sometimes, this slow digestion can lead to acid reflux.

Another common factor owing to acid reflux is the lower amount of sunlight. Less sunlight on the skin means less Vitamin D absorption. Lower levels of Vitamin D in the body can lead to the relaxing of the oesophagus sphincter allowing acid to pass through the oesophagus, leading to acidity.

How To Ensure a Healthy Gut Regardless of the Season?

While there are high chances of gut issues taking place with the change in season, hopefully, there are several ways and gut-friendly options to take good care of your gut and overall digestive system. Here’s what you can do: -

1. Eat Seasonally Whenever Possible

Eating things out of season might not be the best idea or the right option for your gut microbiome. Fruits and vegetables forced to grow out of season lack most nutrients and flavour. Not only that, but these foods can also consist of harmful substances like lectin that can damage your intestines and create an imbalance in your gut microbiome.

Local, organic and seasonal produce will not only protect your gut microbiota and overall gut health but support the microbiota to help it thrive and grow.

2. Support Your Gut Health and Gut Microbiota with Prebiotic Fibre

Providing your microbiota with enough prebiotic fibre for the entire year is the best thing you can do for your gut health. Prebiotic fibre feeds good gut bacteria, which ensures that bacteria help your gut function properly. So, try as much as you can to provide your gut with prebiotic fibre, whether through foods or supplementation. Food like pineapple consisting of bromelain, quinoa rich in protein, almonds consisting of Vitamin E, etc., are all fibre-rich foods, great for healthy digestion.

There are several prebiotic and probiotic supplements easily available in the market to provide your gut with the right amount of fibre content regularly.

3. Step into the Light

People prefer to stay at home more than go out for a while during winter. That leads to a Vitamin D deficiency in the body which can be responsible for an imbalance in the gut microbiome.

So, get out for a while and try doing light workouts after your meal, preferably lunch. It will not only help you digest better but also boost your mood and minimize blood glucose spikes.

Conclusion

Change in seasons is bound to happen. That is why you must prepare your gut and body for these changes and make sure you take extra care during these shifts. You can try eating seasonal foods that are extremely healthy and extra nutritious, go for regular walks and connect with nature. It will support gut diversity and gut health.

References

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Tabatabaeizadeh SA, Tafazoli N, Ferns GA, Avan A, Ghayour-Mobarhan M. Vitamin D, the gut microbiome and inflammatory bowel disease. J Res Med Sci. 2018 Aug 23;23:75. doi: 10.4103/jrms.JRMS_606_17. PMID: 30181757; PMCID: PMC6116667. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116667/

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Singh P, Rawat A, Alwakeel M, Sharif E, Al Khodor S. The potential role of vitamin D supplementation as a gut microbiota modifier in healthy individuals. Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 10;10(1):21641. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77806-4. PMID: 33303854; PMCID: PMC7729960. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33303854/

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