Until recently, nobody took any notice of their gut health, but when you think about the way we use the word ‘gut’ in everyday speech, it gives us a clue as to how important the workings of our gut really are. We’ve all had that ‘gut-feeling’ about things being right or wrong for us. We’ve all heard courageous people being described as ‘having guts’ or being ‘gutsy’ – but what’s so important about our gut that it crops up this way in our everyday speech?
Importance of Good Gut Health
The fact is that our gut health is linked to our overall health in numerous ways. A healthy gut is linked to a healthy immune system, to mood stability and therefore our mental health and also to hormonal health. Even the condition of our skin is linked to the health of our gut. So, it’s vitally important that we look after our gut health and feed it in the correct way. That means, feeding the ‘good’ bacteria and minimising the food and lifestyle habits that do the damage to our gut microbiome.
Did you know that more than half of your body isn’t actually human? Researchers have discovered that 57% of your body’s cells are made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Sounds pretty disgusting, right? But some of these microorganisms are important for your health.
If you suffer from IBS, bloating, wind, diarrhoea or constipation, these can all be symptoms of poor gut health. Believe it or not, poor gut health can also contribute to poor sleep, which in turn has been linked to mood swings and weight gain. Antibiotics, stress and poor diet are all known to impair gut health but there are ways to minimise the harm and even to improve gut health.
Five Ways to Improve Gut Health
- Eat a Wholefood Diet
If your current diet contains too many fast-food lunches and evening takeaways, you’re likely to be suffering from poor gut health. But the good news is, it’s never too late to start making changes. Most people simply don’t eat enough fiber. Try including more fruit, vegetables and pulses into your diet. If your current diet is low in these foods, ease them into your diet gradually. Remember that meat, fish and dairy contain no fiber whatsoever, so you can really increase your fiber intake by cooking at least one or two meat-free meals a week.
- Probiotics and Prebiotics
Supercharge your way to good gut health by adding these into your diet. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can help restore balance in your gut. They can help to ease the symptoms of IBS and are especially helpful following antibiotics. Probiotics can be found in plant-based yoghurt, unpasteurised sauerkraut, and kombucha which is actually fermented tea. (My very good friend Colin Wynne makes Nutra Kombucha and it’s the best Kombucha I’ve ever tried and I would highly recommend it. He makes several flavours but the beautiful purple coloured Butterfly Pea Tea is my favourite. You can order it through his website Nutrakombucha.co.uk Prebiotics can also easily be added to your diet, they can be found in many foods including chicory root, beans, artichokes, onions, leeks and garlic.
- Manage Stress
It’ll come as no surprise to you, that stress affects your gut. When you’re stressed, your body switches into ‘fight or flight’ mode which slows down your digestion and the absorbtion of vital nutrients. This not only leads to poor gut health, but can also be the cause of a compromised immune system. Practising specific breathing and relaxation techniques such as meditation can help lower stress and improve gut health.
Exercise has many benefits of course, but you might be surpised to learn that it can increase the bacterial diversity in your gut. Research, published in the journal Experimental Physiology was carried out by Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The paper explains that better cardio fitness is linked to greater bacterial diversity in the gut and unsurprisingly, they believe that this is linked to your level of physical activity. So find a type of exercise you like and make it part of your routine, whether that’s walking, running, swimming or cycling, get your body moving and do your gut a big favour.
Perhaps the simplest step of all is to drink more water. The body needs water to get rid of toxins and to act as a lubricant to help food move through the digestive system. Getting enough water is vital for gut health and dehydration can lead to constipation. Water makes up 60% of your body and you need water not only for you gut, but for your brain, muscles and heart to work efficiently. Try drinking a glass of water before your meals and eat more foods that contain water such as fruit and vegetables.
Another easy way to overhaul your gut health is to follow the Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living programme which is simple to follow, provides your body with balanced nutrition and supports gut health. There are plenty of delicious food options on this plan so you never feel deprived and the plan is vegan, gluten free and non-GMO. And as an added bonus, it can act as a great kick start to weight-loss.
If you like to learn more, give me a call or text and find out how my habit-change health coaching can help you to live a healthier, happier life. Sam Bentall 07939 235671