24. Sep 2020

Emanuel Munkhambwa

How our intestines stays healthy right now

This summer is like no other. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (a.k.a. COVID-19) has affected our lives in many different ways. If there are positive aspects to this pandemic, they are the growing awareness for hygiene, the increasing interest in strengthening our immune system as well as the desire to lead a more mindful life. In all of this, intestinal health plays a vital role. The following tips will help you get through the summer without regrets.

Not a minute goes by without the mention of the spotlight-grabbing pandemic. The “coronavirus” has been omnipresent since the beginning of the year. This causes immense stress, fear and excessive mental burdens for some. While others neglect important safety measures, such as wearing a face mask, hand hygiene, and correct sneezing and coughing etiquette. Nevertheless, carelessness spreads amongst many holiday-goers once they start enjoying their holidays at home or on the road.

The consequences of the “new normal”

Let’s take a step back and take a look at the aftermath of the lockdown: These restrictions in our mobility and freedom led to a lack of exercise and a change in diet for many people. Most of all, hoarding and panic buying canned and ready-made foods, as well as frequent snacking, resulted in a dull or unhealthy diet that was rich in sugars and salts. If people eat a one-sided diet for too long, it can lead to deficiencies or even reduce the diversity of helpful intestinal bacteria which also weakens the immune system.

Tips: Use the holidays or the extra time because of shorter working hours to turn regional and seasonal ingredients into delicious and healthy meals with your loved ones. Alternatively, you can also try frozen fruits and veggies: They contain just as many nutrients as fresh foods.

Ein Spätsommer ohne Reue

It is not uncommon for drastic dietary and mealtime changes to cause digestive problems, especially constipation. A lack of exercise and stress also trigger such complaints. Regarding stress: Thanks to the extra burdens of home-office, taking care of children and housekeeping, (single) mothers reach their limits – with wide-ranging consequences. Lasting mental stress causes inflammation in the intestinal mucosa and, as a result, disturbs the balance of the intestinal bacteria. This starts a vicious cycle that affects digestion, the mind (emotions, mood and concentration) via the gut-brain-axis, performance and generally has a negative impact on our health.

Tips: Take a few minutes every day to relax and recharge your batteries. Don’t ignore your emotions and fears, and talk to a loved-one about them. Take a break from technology and block social media.

Prevent digestive complaints in everyday life

It’s especially easy to let go while travelling – yet we should still heed the corona safety guidelines. Neither should we forget other safety habits, especially the general rule “cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it!” In other words, always boil water (especially while abroad), peel fruits and vegetables and cook meat and fish properly. And be careful with buffets: Pathogenic germs feel just as at home in foods and drinks at a 5-star hotel as at a camping-site. Children are especially susceptible to diarrhoea as their intestines don’t have as much experience with foreign germs.

There is no bigger highlight for the whole family in summer then grilling and eating outdoors. However, the improper storage and preparation of foods can turn everyone’s joy into nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, circulation problems and fever. The most common cause for such complaints are the bacteria Campylobacter and Salmonella.

Tips: Try to keep food cool for as long as possible in summer. Use a different cooking utensil for every ingredient. Wash food thoroughly. Grill meat – and especially poultry – properly.

One souvenir that every woman likes to avoid is a vaginal infection. It is usually caused by an overgrowth of the fungi Candida albicans, which is triggered by swimming in chlorinated water. Even though chlorine lowers the levels of germs in the water, it can also change the pH-value of the vaginal flora. This, in turn, reduces the number of helpful lactic acid bacteria in the vaginal area.

Tips: Always pack suitable probiotics that strengthen the intestinal defence and lactobacilli to support the healthy vaginal flora – for domestic and international trips. And don’t forget electrolyte supplements to compensate for the loss of water during diarrhoea. Caution: Laxatives should only be used in emergencies and for a short time when treating constipation.

Stay informed!
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