There are many things you can do to lower your risk of getting sick such as regularly exercising, avoiding processed foods, and eating more fruits and vegetables. But did you know that what you drink in the morning might also help you achieve a healthy gut?
The old adage stands–you are what you eat (and drink). What we put in our body has a huge impact on our overall health. Whether you prefer a cup of joe, a soda, plain water, or a healthy smoothie, that morning staple contributes to how healthy your gut is.
Looking Out For A Healthy Gut
Gut health can be significantly affected by your microbiome, which is the vital population of bacteria and other microorganisms that dwell in your gut. A healthy gut is critical for overall health because it helps regulate your immune system and supports a variety of other physiological processes. Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms, of which some are “good for you” and some are “bad”.
A healthy gut means a stronger immune system, a better mood, pain-free digestion, and a healthy brain and heart,” explains Sabine Hazan, M.D., a gastroenterologist and the founder of Ventura Clinical Trials in Ventura, California.
When your gut is out of whack, you may notice a change in your poop. Changes in color, texture and consistency may point to a problem with your gut. Apart from changes with your bowel movements, abnormal weight loss, anemia and rectal bleeding are also signs of an unhealthy gut.
The challenge also lies in balancing the “bad” bacteria in the gut with the “good” ones. If your microbiome is out of balance, you may be more vulnerable to disease. An imbalanced microbiota may increase the risk of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and possibly colon cancer.
To maintain a healthy gut and lower your risk of these diseases, keep a close eye on what you eat and drink. If you believe you are at risk or simply want to focus more on your gut health, begin with your morning routine.
Stepping up Your Morning Drinking Habits for a Healthy Gut
Jen Bruning, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests four morning drinking habits that support your gut health:
- Drink Water and More Water
Bruning believes that water is our primary and best source of hydration. Six to eight hours of sleep is a long time to go without water. As soon as you wake up, drinking two or three glasses of water is a good way to quickly rehydrate your body. It also aids in the movement of the lower bowels, which aids in regularity. 
Moreover, drinking water in the morning is a great way to get our gut and overall health off to a good start. [Related: Benefits of Lemon Water in the Morning]
According to research published in the International Journal of Obesity, drinking water on an empty stomach can boost your metabolic rate. The carbohydrates and proteins that you consume daily are metabolized and transported throughout your body via water. Having enough water in your system will help fire up your metabolism, keeping it at peak performance all day.
- A Cup of Coffee or Two
Most people think of coffee as a quick energy boost or as part of their morning ritual, but research shows that a cup of joe can do much more. Coffee has been studied by scientists all over the world for decades, and many have found positive results. 
One study published in Nutrients looked at the gut microbiota of three types of coffee drinkers: non-coffee drinkers, moderate drinkers (3 to 45 milliliters per day), and high-coffee drinkers (45 to 500 milliliters a day). They discovered that the polyphenols found in coffee—a type of antioxidant known to have protective effects against chronic diseases such as obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases—could be linked to gut health.
Furthermore, dietary polyphenols have been shown to positively affect the composition and function of the gut microbiome by combating pathogenic gut microflora, or bacteria that can cause disease. 
A presentation at the 84th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology highlighted the benefits of coffee on the gut microbiome, concluding that participants who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had healthier gut microbiomes than those who drank less coffee. This is good news for coffee-lovers who need a morning pick-me-up and those who are already on their cup of coffee. Yet again, everything should always be in moderation.
- Add in Fiber-Containing Juices
Just like any other organism, “good” bacteria need to eat to get the energy to survive and function. Most carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids are absorbed into the circulation before reaching the large intestine, leaving little for the gut flora. Fiber comes into play here. Because human cells lack the enzymes required to break down fiber, it passes through the large intestine virtually undigested.
One in 20 people in the United States consumes the recommended amount of fiber, and the lack of fiber intake is starving our gut microbiomes which can result in health consequences associated with gastrointestinal disorders. 
Bruning maintains that a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber is essential for good health and healthy bowels. Soluble fiber may aid digestion, while insoluble fiber may soften feces, making this a winning combination for a healthy gut. 
- Get That Smoothie
Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI, a gastroenterologist, and author, recommends focusing on whole, organic foods when creating a simple but effective smoothie for healthy digestion.
Use fiber-rich fruits, such as berry mixes, and include ground flax or chia seeds for extra nutrients and fiber. Smoothies, like juice and supplement drinks, can provide a one-two punch of fiber and fluids. Don’t forget to add probiotics like yogurt or kefir, to get a serving of gut-friendly bacteria!
Healthy Gut, Healthy Life
Ultimately, caring for your digestive system, also known as your gastrointestinal (GI) system, is as important as taking care of anything else. The gut digests the meals you eat, absorbs nutrients from them, and uses those nutrients to fuel and sustain your body.
“The gut plays an important role in our bodies’ health and well-being,” says Alicia Romano, a specialized clinical dietitian at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The gut is in constant connection with the brain, it regulates a variety of factors such as immunological activity, GI muscle contractions, and fluid production. In addition to digesting food and absorbing nutrients, the gut is an important player in the body’s immune system, containing more than 70% of your immune cells. 
Adding good things to your diet, like water, and avoiding bad things, like trans fats and oils, will help you live a healthier gut and a healthier life. But it does take a lot of work.
Check out Dr. Nandi’s Superfoods Cookbook for free quick and easy recipes to make sure your gut health is always at its best.