Did you know that your gut or digestive system is much more complex than once thought? The power the gut has on your whole body is amazing! Beside digesting and breaking down your foods, it also has the ability to produce hormones which signal the brain and produce immune cells which influence the immune system. Some studies have revealed that the microbes that live in the gut have an impact on heart health and blood sugar metabolism.
So, learn to love your gut and how you can keep it in tip-top condition.
Here are 10 tips to help keep your gut healthy
Eat and drinking for a merry occasion is common practice. However, it is not recommended for promoting good gut health. Eating and drinking at the same time can dilute your digestive enzymes and decrease your body’s ability to break down food. It can also contribute to indigestion and flatulence.
How many times have you eaten food and not remembered it? Walking, working or talking while eating distracts your ability to concentrate on your food. It can also contribute to an increase in weight. When you sit down to eat, be conscious of what you eating. Be present and acknowledge your food as it will give you a greater sense of satiety. Take the time to sit and eat.
Often when hunger is rampant you feel that you are inhaling your food! However, it is vital that you actually chew your food thoroughly. Good digestion starts in your mouth, by chewing your food properly first. Remember there are no teeth in your stomach! So, if you gulp your food, it can lead to ingestion, bloating and abdominal pain.
Fibre comes in many forms and is often a suggested remedy for constipation. But let’s look beyond the obvious. There are basically two forms of fibre, insoluble and soluble. These fibre types help to set the right type of environment within your gut. You need the right environment in your gut to help your good bacteria to survive. These forms of beneficial fibre which promote good gut bacteria are called, “prebiotics”. Some of the best ones are: slippery elm powder, linseeds, leeks, garlic, barley and oats to name a few.
I see you wince! But bitter foods are wonderful foods to help promote good gut health. Bitter foods naturally stimulate your own digestive juices to break down foods. Some of the best bitter foods are: dandelion greens, arugula (or rocket), radicchio, chicory, endive, bitter melon and white asparagus. Introduce a few of these vegetables into your daily diet.
How many times do you go to loo to do a number two? This is a question asked all the time by Naturopaths to their clients. Whilst it may cause you to blush, it is so important to know how many times you do move your bowels in a day. Constipation is epidemic in our western culture and often you don’t realise it. Ideally, moving your bowels three times a day is normal! Yes, moving your bowels after each meal. However, most may go to the toilet once or twice a day, if lucky. It is so important that you excrete unwanted matter from your digestive system daily. If not, then flatulence, abdominal bloating and pain can set in. Good bowel motions rely on a good diet such as clean proteins, complex fibres and good oils to keep your whole gut functioning properly.
‘Probiotics’ is the current buzz word of good gut health. They are very beneficial not only to your gut health but your whole body. Although, we have known about how good they are for some time. We now know there are many trillions of strains and some specific stains which can influence many types of health conditions. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut to name a few.
Is simply the abstinence of eating food. Generally, we fast every day from sleeping to waking hence we have the meal “breakfast” to “break” our overnight fast. However, prolonged fasting has been shown to be of benefit to the digestive system too. Not only does it provide rest for our body from breaking down and assimilating foods, some studies have revealed it may help to balance blood glucose metabolism and aid in weight management. There are many types and styles of fasting and for different lengths. Seek advice of a health professional before considering any type of fasting.
Movement and exercise are important for your whole body. But more recent research has revealed that exercise can have a positive effect on gut health. Exercise can improve the gut microbiome by encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria, which then helps to support healthy digestive function and overall health and wellbeing.
We often underestimate the power of stress and its effect on our gut. Stress often leads to physical, emotional and hormonal responses. Whilst we have stress hormones which are produced to respond to stress, we also have a digestive hormone response as well. Sure, you may have vented or heard the saying, “I have a bad gut feeling” in response to an unpleasant situation. If you are in a constant state of upheaval, stress or anxiety, your digestive system will have difficulty functioning and the constant hormone surges can lead to altered gut function. Another prominent area of gut health which can be directly affected by stress is your gut microbiome. Our friendly gut bacteria are very sensitive to changes in our environment and how we respond to stress.
Optimal gut health is vitally important to our general health and wellbeing. Following these few tips can help facilitate healthy gut function and keep it in great condition.