Six Tips To Improve Gut Health
Gut health is the cornerstone of overall wellness. From hormones, our mood (yes, the gut is the second brain), our metabolism, our immunity, the appearance of our skin, and nutrient absorption, our gut health plays a critical role in it all.
Not only that, but when our gut health is on point, then we also feel and look better!
Give your gut some lovin’ with our six tips below to support a healthy digestive system.
What can compromise our gut?
First, lets take a look at what can compromise the gut and negatively effect our digestive system.
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Infections such as SIBO, parasites, yeast overgrowth or dysbosis
- Environmental toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, mould exposure, artificial sweeteners and preservatives
- Medications such as NSAIDS, PPIs or antibiotics
- Poor eating habits which can lead to nutrient deficiencies such as long term restrictive diets, high sugar, processed foods and alcohol consumption, thus digestive issues will reduce your ability to absorb certain nutrients
Gut Health Tips
1. Eat the rainbow
Eating a colourful range of fruit and vegetables will provide your body with a heap of soluble fibre to keep your digestive system moving the way it should.
Try increasing anti-inflammatory herbs such as ginger and turmeric. These are potent anti-inflammatories which are also high in antioxidants and help to heal and nourish the gut.
You may want to also decrease the amount of packaged and processed foods you consume as they can be difficult for the body to digest and can lead to things like a ‘leaky gut’ or blockages within your digestive tract.
2. Cut the sugar
Sugar can promote the growth of bad bacteria and hampers the growth of good bacteria. Research has also found that in mice, ingesting high amounts of sugar leads to a change in gut bacteria. This change made it difficult to adapt to changes and reduced the quality of their memory. In these mice, the sugar encouraged harmful bacteria to grow at a higher rate. Some scientists also suggest that sugar may have this same impact on humans.
Sugar can increase your likelihood of developing certain health issues, and the more sugar you consume, the greater risk you are posing to the health of your gut.
3. Manage stress
Stress can have a direct impact on the state of our digestive system and gut health. Have you heard of the saying, ‘the gut is the second brain?’.
Our gut communicates with the brain via something called the vagus nerve which connects to the gut with nerve fibres branching out like a vine to reach all parts of the digestive system. The gut-brain connection goes two-ways: Stress, anxiety and depression can cause negative changes to the gut microbiome, and an unbalanced microbiome can amplify stress, anxiety, depression and nervous system dysregulation. The gut bacteria in the digestive system have a major influence over our mood and also plays a crucial role in how we cope with stress.
One of the best ways you can improve your digestion is regular stress management, as reducing stress can ease digestive stress, lower inflammation in the gut, and ensure for proper digestion and absorption of food and the nutrients you need. Try yoga, meditation, time out for self-care or certain practices or exercises to stimulate the vagus nerve such as deep belly breathing, singing, laughing and spending time in nature.
4. Stay hydrated
Our cells are made of mostly water, so when we don’t get enough water and hydration, then the processes in our body can suffer. When we are well hydrated our body can flush out toxins and eliminate waste more efficiently. If you have trouble remembering to drink water and stay hydrated (especially at this time of year), invest in a good reusable stainless steel water bottle and set a goal to drink a certain number per day - make it a habit. You can also add things like lemon or fresh fruit slices (try and aim for organic - no pesticides please), fresh herbs such as mint, or even a fruity tea bag to help make the water more fun and enticing to sip on.
5. Consider probiotics and gut repair products for additional support
Probiotics and gut repair products may help with speed healing and reduce symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, or digestive discomfort. Probiotics are also one of the best allies when it comes to better gut health. A healthy and balanced digestive system is home to trillions of probiotic bacteria, so it’s important that we replenish them on the daily.
Always speak with a health professional or practitioner to see which product would be the best for you. For example, there are many different variations and strains of probiotics and there may be one that is best suited for you.
Fermented vegetables such as kimchee, kefir and sauerkraut are also rich in probiotics, and you may want to include more of these into your diet. Always bring in a small amount and see how your digestive system feels post consumption. Typically those with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) should avoid fermented vegetables for a short period until they have treated the SIBO.
As well as probiotics, you should also try increasing your prebiotic food consumption as prebiotics help to nourish our probiotics. Foods that are high in prebiotics are asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic and artichoke.
6. Seek medical advice if you have ongoing issues.
Remember, always treat the underlying cause of your gut health and symptoms, especially if they are ongoing and causing you distress. Stool tests and lab work can a great way to find out what’s going on in your gut on a deeper level. Work with your health professional to investigate and determine the best treatment for you.
And lastly.. Remember to ‘listen to your body’ as there is no one size fits all diet or wellness strategy for everyone as we are all unique individuals. Learn to tune in and trust the signals you are getting from your body, and don’t be afraid to adjust what you are eating and doing.
The LYH team xx