- A morning routine can help your improve your digestion and gut health, according to a dietitian.
- Habits like drinking water, taking a short walk, and eating a high-fiber breakfast can help.
- Stress can be bad for your gut health, so try to manage it by setting aside time to journal or meditate.
A healthy gut starts with a good morning routine. Habits like a high-fiber breakfast, quick exercise break, and drinking coffee or tea can help you stay regular and maintain a healthy digestive system, according to Samantha Cassetty, registered dietitian and nutrition advisor for Siggi's.
Here are seven steps she recommends to start your day off right, from hydrating early to setting aside time to journal so stress doesn't derail your digestion.
Table of Contents
Start with a glass of water
Drinking enough water is crucial for good motility, or keeping your digestion moving, and sipping some first thing in the morning can help relieve dehydration that occurs overnight.
"Getting adequate fluids can help with hydration and prevent constipation, which throws your gut health
off track," Cassetty said.
Consider a supplement
If you're working through specific digestive health issues, supplements may help. Probiotics contain live bacteria that can help boost the number of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, which can sometimes ease symptoms like nausea, gas, diarrhea, or cramping.
"Certain strains of probiotics may be helpful for conditions like constipation and irritable bowel
syndrome," Cassetty said.
For instance, probiotic strains used to treat irritable bowel syndrome include lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, lactobacillus plantarum, and bifidobacterium bifidum, a gastroenterologist previously told Insider.
Cassetty recommends taking supplements first thing in the morning for best absorption, about 30 minutes before breakfast.
Opt for gut-friendly foods like yogurt, nuts, and fruit for breakfast
For a nutritious, satisfying morning meal, include a combination of healthy fats, a serving of produce, and about 20 grams of protein, according to Cassetty.
Her go-to is skyr-style yogurt, which similar to Greek yogurt, containing about 19 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving, compared to just 6 grams in the same amount of regular yogurt.
Cassetty opts for Siggi's skyr, which is low in added sugar, and tops it with blueberries and walnuts.
Breakfast ingredients like berries, walnuts, and other plant foods are rich in fiber, which helps feed beneficial bacteria in the gut, while fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi provide a dose of live probiotics to increase the beneficial bugs in your gut. Be careful to read labels, however — foods like flavored yogurt can be high in added sugar, which can throw off your gut health, Cassetty said.
Other foods for a gut-friendly day of eating include whole grains, seeds, and legumes.
Get some exercise
Even a quick workout can boost your overall health, research shows. A 10 to 20 minute walk or yoga session in the morning is great for your digestion, according to Cassetty.
"Activity helps improve digestion and motility, which helps keep your bowels moving. Plus, exercise alters
your gut microbes, improving diversity, which is a sign of a healthy gut," she said.
Aim for a consistent morning bathroom break
Your muscles aren't the only thing to move each morning for optimal gut health. Setting aside a consistent time each day for a bowel movement can keep you regular, and evidence suggests the best time to poop is after breakfast, according to Cassetty.
"It sounds funny, but we're creatures of habit, and the more you stick to a bathroom routine, the more
likely it is that your bowels will cooperate," she said.
Enjoy coffee or tea
Indulging in your morning brew can be a good thing, Cassetty said.
Drinks like coffee and tea can help you stay regular, thanks to the caffeine they provide, but also contain plant micronutrients called polyphenols which help to feed beneficial gut bacteria.
Extensive research suggests these morning beverages have major benefits for your health, including your digestive system, especially if you avoid too much added sugar.
Reduce stress with deep breathing or journaling
When you're stressed, your body has evolved to slow down digestion, Cassetty explained. That's helpful if you're running for your life, but not if you're just trying to manage a heavy workload.
"This prolonged stress is associated with reduced microbial diversity, a sign of an unhealthy gut," she said.
To manage stress, Cassetty said she carves out five to 20 minutes each day for activities like journaling, meditation, or simple deep breathing.
"It's easier to be consistent if I do it first thing in the morning," she said. "This practice can help digestion and gut health, but it also does so much more than that!"