Folks in the wellness world are all about their morning routines. Lemon water, meditation, a.m. virtual workout classes…for many, optimizing your health and well-being starts as soon as you wake up.
The morning brings opportunities for a variety of fresh starts, from hitting your fitness goals to resetting your mood. But did you know that boosting your gut health should be an important factor in your morning routine, too? Starting the day with poor digestion or an unhealthy gut can make the day feel long and tiring, and if gut issues become chronic, you could notice such discomfort on a regular basis. That’s why improving gut health is key—and you can do so with a few handy morning habits that will start your day off right.
1. Drink a glass of water ASAP
Starting your day with enough fluids supports your overall daily needs and can help prevent constipation. “Aside from being uncomfortable, regular constipation increases the risk for colon cancer and digestive issues such as diverticulosis later in life,” says Kelly Jones, RD.
“I recommend a tall glass of water before reaching for coffee or caloric beverages, such as juice or milk,” she says. This habit starts your day off immediately with water in case you get distracted later, helping you better meet your daily hydration goals.
Here’s the 411 on why gut health is so important for overall health:
2. Make your breakfast rich in prebiotic foods
Prebiotics (short for prebiotic fiber) are a type of non-digestible carbohydrates that feed your gut bacteria and helps them thrive. “This supports our microbiome and its role in immunity, metabolism, mental health, and more,” says Jones.
We should be consuming prebiotics, which come from plant foods like oat, barley, and rye, at every meal. But a breakfast rich in plant foods with prebiotic fiber doesn’t just you up for a happy gut first thing in the a.m.; Jones says that starting your morning off with filling fiber and high quality carbs also helps you have a more regulated appetite throughout the day. Enjoy a banana with oatmeal, or cooked barley with chopped apples and cinnamon.
3. Add some probiotic foods to your plate, too
When talking about gut health, you can’t forget the importance of probiotics—aka the “good” bacteria—as well. “While regular intake of prebiotic foods supports the gut over time, probiotic foods, or those containing live bacteria, may have a more immediate effect on digestive health,” says Jones.
While yogurt may be your first thought, it’s important to eat a variety of probiotic and fermented foods so your gut isn’t overwhelmed with the same bacterial strains and ends up lacking in others. “Try kefir for a more potent and diverse blend, or different yogurt and kombucha brands with your breakfast. You can also make breakfast tacos and top them with kimchi,” she says.
4. Get some movement
“Physical activity has been shown to improve the gut’s microbial diversity, meaning growth in beneficial bacteria. By taking a brisk walk, short jog, or at-home workout you increase your gut’s good bacteria, which improves digestion as well as nutrient absorption and overall health,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD. Plus, physical activity helps literally keeps things moving through your digestive tract. “Part of what makes our intestines move is our innate musculature,” gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD, previously told Well+Good. “When you exercise, you’re jostling around and you’re also contracting those core muscles, which helps push the poop forward.”
You can make time for a full workout or just do some quick HIIT exercises, yoga flow, jump rope, or a quick run up and down stairs for 10 minutes too. You do what works for your needs and time in the a.m. Every bit helps to wake you up!