Tips To Improve Your Metabolic Health & Digestive System

Your body is inherently a complex machine, and keeping the machine running smoothly for your daily activities requires ongoing regular maintenance. Just like any vehicle requiring regular maintenance such as oil changes and tune-ups, your metabolism and digestive system benefit from constant and dedicated care.

These two systems work hand-in-hand for our bodily activities; a healthy metabolism efficiently burns calories for energy, while a well-functioning digestive system absorbs nutrients from food to fuel those processes. This blog post will provide you with some tips to optimise both your metabolism and digestive system, paving the way for a healthier, more energised version of yourself. 

However, any substantial changes to your diet and exercise regime should be carefully considered, and be implemented in accordance with advice from an appropriately qualified professional, such as a dietitian or general practitioner.

6 ways to improve your metabolic health

Revving Up Your Metabolism

The metabolism is the sum of all the chemical processes in your body that converts food into energy. Even minor disruptions in your metabolic process can cause various problems, from weight gains, fatigue, and even difficulty managing blood sugar levels, causing diabetes. Here are some strategies to get your metabolic fire burning bright:

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a popular dietary practice that has proven to provide a number of potential benefits, specifically for metabolic health. There are a number of versions of IF commonly practised, which as follows:

  • Time-Restricted Fasting: This practice involves only eating during a set number of hours in one timeframe, and not eating for the rest of the day. There are some of the most common methods of this specific version of IF, putting the emphasis on the amount of the time ratio between the eating and non-eating window, such as the 16/8 method (only eating between 10 am and 6pm; 8 hours in total), or the 14/10 method (only eating between 9am and 7pm; 10 hours in total).
  • The 5:2 Practice: This method emphasises the capping of the calories at 500 for two days every week. During the fasting days, a 200-calorie diet and 300-calorie diet is usually included, with high-fibre and high-protein foods being its main focus. While for the remaining five non-fasting days, a normal, yet healthy diet is also maintained. The two fasting days are up for grabs, but it is necessary that there is a gap for at least one non-fasting day between them.
  • Alternate Day Fasting: Also known as ADF, this practice involves an eating pattern where there is a cycle between periods of eating and fasting, which repeats every other day. During fasting days, the consumption of calories is usually very little to none. There are variations in how strict the ADF is, with some people aiming for complete abstinence and only consuming water, while others are allowing themselves to consume any sorts of dietary up to 500 calories. And during eating days, a consumption of normal, yet healthy diet is followed, as per usual.

Exercising

Different types of exercises can also play a part in improving the metabolic systems. Understanding the variety of exercises available and how they each benefit metabolic health can help individuals plan their exercising routines to maximise the benefits that these exercises may provide. Here are some of the available exercises: 

  • Aerobic Exercise: Also known as cardio, aerobic exercises involve sustained, rhythmic activities that increase heart rate and breathing. Some of the familiar aerobic exercises include running, cycling, swimming, and brisk walking. There are some benefits that can be obtained from doing this exercise, from enhancing insulin sensitivity, reducing visceral fat, improving lipid profiles, to boosting cardiovascular health. One journal has proven that aerobic exercise significantly improves insulin action and reduces the risk of metabolic issues such as type 2 diabetes.
  • Resistance Training: This training involves exercises that improve muscle strength and endurance using weights, resistance bands, or body weight. Common forms include weightlifting, bodyweight exercises (like push-ups and squats), and resistance band workouts. Resistance training increases metabolic health in general, from increasing muscle mass which boosts resting metabolic rate, improving insulin sensitivity, and also enhancing overall body composition, specifically reducing visceral fat significantly, according to one study.
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. There are a couple of HIIT exercises that can be implemented, such as sprint intervals, circuit training, and tabata workouts. A study has proven there are benefits that can be obtained from doing HIIT that positively affect metabolic systems, such as improving insulin sensitivity, improving mitochondrial function, and burning a significant amount of calories in a short period of time.

Evidence Between Intermittent Fasting (IF), Exercising & Metabolic Benefits

Intermittent Fasting with its different methods, combined with a routine amount of exercising, brings benefits that positively affect some metabolic processes, including reducing risks of diabetes, obesity, and many more. Here are some of the metabolic benefits of IF and exercising:

  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity
    One study has proven that the implementation of Early Time-Restricted Fasting (eRTF), an iteration of one of the methods of intermittent fasting, improves insulin levels and sensitivity and other symptoms correlating with cardiometabolic aspects, resulting in the reduction in risks among patients with prediabetic symptoms, indicating that intermittent fasting can be an efficient treatment for a number potential symptoms of diabetes.
  • Weight Loss and Fat Reduction
    A study has linked the successful contribution of intermittent fasting towards weight loss, specifically in fat loss. Despite there’s a slight increase after the follow-up of the study, it has indicated that intermittent fasting can be a treatment for patients with obesity, which correlates with multiple metabolic risks.
  • Cholesterol Reduction
    Intermittent fasting has been associated with improved lipid profiles, resulting in the reduction of cholesterol risks, according to one study. This includes the increasing levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides (fat), and also increasing levels of HDL (good cholesterol). These changes play a part in creating healthier metabolic systems and reduced cardiovascular risks.

Improving & Nurturing Your Digestive System

The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food into its nutrients, which are then absorbed and used by the body for different sorts of activities. When digestion runs smoothly, without any issues, you will feel energised and your body gets all the important nutrients it needs for optimal health. Here are some ways to help nurturing your digestive system:

Consume More High-Fibre Diet

Fibre promotes regularity and keeps your digestive system moving efficiently, which has its benefits such as normalising bowel movements, reducing risk of developing haemorrhoids and small pouches in the colon area, and even reducing the risks of colorectal cancer. Try to include food with high amounts of fibre in your dietary planning, from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Adding Probiotics To Your Diet

One study has suggested that the benefits of probiotics, which are the live bacteria that support the good bacteria in your gut microbiome, plays a crucial role in digestion and overall health, specifically in the intestinal areas. There are a number of probiotic-rich foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut. Adding these dietary options to your daily diet can help improve your digestive processes.

Managing Stress

Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system, specifically altering the gut microbiota that causes digestive issues, according to one study. Try to manage your stress as routinely as possible by doing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. Reducing stress gradually can help and promote gut health, improving your digestive system.

Limiting Processed Foods

One study has proven that ultra-processed foods are associated with negative changes in gut microbiota, increasing the risks of multiple digestive issues. These types of foods are often low in fibre and high in unhealthy fats, sugar, and artificial ingredients, all of which can negatively disrupt digestion processes. If you want to maintain a healthy diet, try to avoid ultra-processed foods whenever possible.

Maintaining Healthy Lifestyle Habits Is Key To Healthy Digestive System

By incorporating these tips into your routines, from dietary to exercising habits provided, you can optimise your metabolism and digestive processes, creating a well-oiled machine for a healthier and more vibrant you. Like any other types of routines, consistency is key for maintaining the optimal results from these exercises or diets. Start from scratch if you’re not familiar with these habits, and building your way up into sustainable changes over a considerable time will yield the most significant results for you.

Any major lifestyle changes should be in conjunction with advice from an expert, such as a dietitian or healthcare professional for more personalised guidance on improving your metabolism and digestive health, catered to your liking or capabilities. From there, they can help to tailor a plan based on your specific needs and goals.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

Written by

Priyom holds a Ph.D. in Plant Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Madras, India. She is an active researcher and an experienced science writer. Priyom has also co-authored several original research articles that have been published in reputed peer-reviewed journals. She is also an avid reader and an amateur photographer.

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