Gut health seems to be a topic that can’t get enough coverage at the moment and we can understand why!
Let’s look at what the gut actually is. It’s a term given to the whole of our gastro-intestinal tract which runs from the mouth to you know where! It is a meandering path of muscular tubes and pouches which work away without you even realising. Can you imagine if you had to focus on contracting and relaxing your oesophagus, stomach and intestines every time you had a sip of water or sat down to eat? It would be exhausting!
Our gut doesn’t only deal with food though. It’s also an integral part of our immune system and is closely associated with our lymphatic system. Did you know that 80% of our immune system is located in our gastro-intestinal tract in “gut associated lymphoid tissue”? From tonsils to the small intestine and further down the line, our appendix, our digestive tract really is a fascinating place when it comes to our immune system!
Bacteria come in all different shapes and sizes and can be found pretty much anywhere – and our gut is certainly no exception to this. As our own bacteria, the good kind, is busy breaking down and fermenting our food, our intestines are busy producing many of our own vitamins which are key for human health. However, sometimes our loving Gut Flora can become imbalanced leading to an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, and it is at this point that all sorts of issues with our health and energy levels can occur.
If that isn’t amazing enough, as well as our immune system, our gut is also responsible for producing 95% of our serotonin, commonly referred to as our “happy hormone”!
So, in simple terms, if you aren’t going to look after your gut, then your gut isn’t going to look after you! Say hello to unwanted illnesses and maybe it’s not just the change in weather that’s making you feel down after all!!
If you are wanting to get your gut on the road to recovery and yourself on the road to better health, register for our FREE email course all about GUT HEALTH.
In the meantime, below are are our top tips to achieve good gut health..
5 Top Tips to keeping your gut healthy and happy
- Reduce inflammation
One of the cardinal signs of inflammation is swelling which can lead to loss of motility. Imagine if you have an inflamed joint, you not only have pain, due to the swelling and increased pressure, but you also have reduced movement and loss of full function.
If your usually mobile gut is inflamed it is not going to be able to move properly, breakdown food correctly or absorb the nutrients from your food. A good starting point to reduce this inflammation is reducing the amount of refined foods you eat. Think sugar and refined grains, these both have an inflammatory reaction on your gut and promote an acidic environment in which bad bacteria thrives. And, yes eating too much fruit (fructose) can also be damaging, so if you are unsure then seek advice from one of our nutritional specialists.
- Take a good probiotic
Occasionally your gut microbes need a bit of a helping hand, especially after a bout of diarrhoea or a stint of antibiotics, which can wipe out all bacteria in your gut whether it is good or bad. Think of this as a good fertiliser, sometimes you need to give your plants an extra push to flourish and probiotics do this for our good bacteria. Many probiotics contain strains of ‘residential’ human bacteria which can help re-colonise your intestines. We would recommend taking your probiotics at night so they have longer to get to work in your gut and, of course, if you must take antibiotics then make sure you are accompanying them with probiotics!
- Eat fermented foods
During fermentation natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starches in food, converting them into alcohol or acids, for example lactic acid, which preserves the food. However, fermentation is not just handy if your fridge is broken! Different fermented foods contain different strains of ‘transient’ bacteria – meaning they will not re-colonise your gut, but can be very beneficial to you while they’re passing through.
We would recommend adding a tablespoon of fermented food to your diet to start with but it is always good to see a nutritionist and get a thorough, personalised, meal plan to suit your body’s needs.
The body’s autonomic nervous system can put us into a sympathetic or parasympathetic state i.e. “fight or flight” or “relax and digest”. In a sympathetic (stressful) state our body doesn’t really care too much about what is going on in our digestive tract as let’s face it, getting away from that lion is far more important than digesting the food you’ve just eaten! In today’s society where we live hectic lifestyles, have high stress levels and eat at our desks or on the go, it’s no wonder that we are seeing more and more digestive health issues. Your gut will thank you if you take some time to relax around meal times so it can get to work on fully digesting your food.
- Listen to your gut
An undetected food intolerance can present with a wide array of symptoms from bloating, cramps, a runny nose, lingering headaches to full-blown migraines, simple aches and pains, even to mood changes and depression. These symptoms are signs of an underlying systemic cause that needs to be addressed, not just ignored. If you are unsure as to whether you have an undetected issue, why not contact us today and make an appointment with our nutritionist.