Did you know that sitting for long periods of time can harm not just your back and posture, but also your gut health?
Sitting has become an inevitable part of our daily lives. From commuting to working and even relaxing, sitting has become a default position for most of us. However, research has shown that prolonged sitting can have adverse effects on our health, particularly on our gut health. In this blog, we will discuss the negative effects of sitting for long periods on gut health, and how we can prevent these effects.
The Human Gut Microbiome
The Human Gut Microbiome is a complex and diverse ecosystem that is crucial to our overall health. The gut microbiota comprises trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and archaea, that reside in our gastrointestinal tract. These microorganisms aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, produce essential vitamins and help maintain the immune system’s homeostasis. However, our modern-day lifestyle has altered the balance of our gut microbiota, leading to an increase in gut-related disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and obesity.
Adverse Effects of Sitting on Gut Health
1. Decreased Microbial Diversity
One of the leading causes of this alteration is prolonged sitting. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with decreased gut microbial diversity, which is a crucial indicator of gut health. A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that sitting for long periods can cause a significant decrease in the microbial diversity of the gut, leading to a reduction in the beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, and an increase in potentially harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium Difficile.
2. Slowed Digestive System
Sitting for extended periods also slows down the digestive system, leading to constipation and other digestive issues. Sitting for more than eight hours a day can cause a 22% increase in the risk of developing constipation, according to a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
3. Increased Risk of Gut-Related Cancers
Another negative effect of sitting on gut health is the increased risk of developing gut-related cancers. Studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of colon, rectal, and endometrial cancers. In a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women who sat for more than six hours a day were 10% more likely to develop invasive breast cancer than those who sat for less than three hours a day.
4. Weight Gain
Sitting for long periods can also lead to weight gain, which is a risk factor for gut-related disorders such as IBD, IBS, and colorectal cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that a sedentary lifestyle was associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic disorders, which can contribute to the development of gut-related diseases.
Prevention of Negative Effects of Sitting on Gut Health
So, what can we do to prevent the negative effects of sitting on gut health? One of the most effective ways is to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine. The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week for adults. Physical activity not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also promotes healthy gut microbiota.
2. Maintaining a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Another way to prevent the negative effects of sitting on gut health is to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Consuming a diet rich in fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics can help support the diversity and balance of the gut microbiota. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, while probiotics are live microorganisms that can confer a health benefit when consumed in adequate amounts. Examples of prebiotics include onions, garlic, bananas, and whole grains, while probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Sitting for long periods can have adverse effects on our gut health, leading to a decrease in microbial diversity, a slowed digestive system, an increased risk of gut-related cancers, and weight gain. However, by incorporating physical activity into our daily routine and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, we can prevent these negative effects and promote healthy gut microbiota. It is essential to remember that our gut health plays a crucial role in our overall health and well-being, and taking care of it should be a top priority.