4 Tips for Improving Gut Health from a GI Doctor

Let’s face it – gut health isn’t the most glamorous topic. But it’s vitally important when it comes to your overall health. Gastroenterologist Dr. Manish Singla shares his top tips for maintaining GI health – from essential screenings, alarming symptoms, and how to prioritize mental and heart health.

1. Get screened for a colonoscopy at age 45.

If you’re at average risk for developing colorectal cancer, you should be screened beginning at age 45. You may need to be screened earlier if you have risk factors including inflammatory bowel disease, family history of colon cancer, or a genetic condition that predisposes you to cancer.

Colorectal cancer is rising among younger patients, so don’t put off your screening. While a colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening options because it can both find and remove precancerous growths before they turn into cancer, there are other options. Learn more about these in our guide to colon cancer screening.

2. When something doesn’t seem right, go with your gut and call your doctor.

GI symptoms can be uncomfortable to talk about. But if you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s important to talk to your gastroenterologist to see if you need further evaluation. Symptoms that should raise the alarm include a change in your bowel habits, unintended weight loss, and blood in your stool. Any of these symptoms should prompt a conversation with your doctor, who can determine if they should investigate these issues via a colonoscopy.

3. Make your mental health a priority – it could improve your gut.

Gut health and mental health are intimately connected. The gut and brain are in constant communication, forming a kind of “second brain” in your gut. This means an imbalance in gut bacteria can influence your mood and mental well-being.

Studies have shown links between gut health and conditions like anxiety and depression. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome, their gut symptoms and discomforts are often connected to stresses in their lives. So taking care of your gut with a balanced diet and healthy habits can not only improve your digestion but also contribute to a happier, more positive outlook.

4. Take care of your heart.

What’s good for your heart is good for your gut! This means that focusing on the same healthy habits that contribute to positive heart health can have a positive impact on your gut. Getting regular exercise, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and resting your body can give your gut the support it needs to stay healthy.

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