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Heatwave in India: Excessive heat impacts your gut health, know how?

Our gut contains billions of friendly bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms known as the gut microbiota, which aid in digestion, absorption, and metabolic activity. They also play an essential part in maintaining a strong immune system and mental wellness.

Heatwave in India: Excessive heat impacts your gut health, know how? RBA
First Published Apr 5, 2024, 6:30 PM IST

The soaring temperatures of the harsh summer often affect our bodies in several ways, affecting almost all the organ systems in the body. Gut is no exception.! A healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being. Excessive heat affects the gut environment by disrupting the delicate balance. Discussed here are some lesser-known consequences of extreme heat on gut health and the ways to minimize the effects. 

Our gut houses trillions of friendly bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms collectively known as the gut microbiota that help regulate digestion, absorption, and metabolic activities. They also play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system and sound mental health.  

Heatwave in India: Excessive heat impacts your gut health, know how? RBA

Impact of Excessive Heat:

  • Dehydration: Dehydration is among the common conditions compromising gut health and its ability to maintain its functional capacity. Dehydration due to excessive heat can reduce mucosal barrier integrity, making the gut prone to inflammation and infection. It may also affect gut movement, causing abdominal bloating, heaviness, and constipation. Additionally, dehydration compromises the blood supply to the gut mucosa, increasing the risk of ischemia and increased risk of GI bleeding. 
  • Dysbiosis: Prolonged exposure to heat can alter the gut microbiota composition, leading to dysbiosis, which may present as chronic fatigue and digestive problems, including food intolerance, acid reflux, or heartburn.
  • Leaky Gut: Heat-induced stress can trigger increased intestinal permeability, commonly known as "leaky gut." This condition allows toxins and bacteria to pass through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream, potentially triggering inflammation and autoimmune responses resulting in low-grade fever, generalized body ache, and fatigue.
  • Gut Inflammation: Heat stress activates the body's inflammatory response, which can extend to the gut. 

Heatwave in India: Excessive heat impacts your gut health, know how? RBA

Mitigating the Effects:

  • Hydration: Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for maintaining gut health, especially during hot weather. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and replenish electrolytes lost through sweating.
  • Balanced Diet: Opt for a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and probiotic-rich foods to support gut microbiota diversity. Avoid excessive consumption of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, as they can exacerbate gut inflammation. Avoid overeating, and eating small frequent meals helps in easy gut movement.
  • Cool Environment: Seek refuge from the heat by staying indoors or finding shaded areas. Keeping the body temperature regulated can help prevent heat-induced stress on the gut.
  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to mitigate the impact of heat-related stress on gut health. Chronic stress may exacerbate gastrointestinal disrupt gut microbiota balance and exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms.

-By Dr. Jayaraj S P, - Consultant - Medical Gastroenterologist, Sarjapur Road – Bengaluru


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