How To Keep Your Gut Healthy
There are few things in life quite as unpleasant as trying to go about your daily life when your tummy is aching. From the slightest feeling of discomfort to the debilitating cramps that render us useless, gut health is something often overlooked or dismissed.
In this article we discuss why it is important to maintain a healthy gut and provide you with tips to follow to help you get that tummy back on track.
It is important to note that your gut actually influences everything from your digestion to your brain and your immune system, so an unhappy tummy is not something that should be ignored.
A happy gut is the secret to keeping the rest of your body functioning normally.
Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria, which also houses yeast and viruses. Collectively, these microorganisms are called gut microbiota and they need to live in harmony to help avoid health issues.
This is where the gut-brain axis comes in. If you’ve ever felt ‘butterflies’ at the sight of a loved one, or lost your appetite when you’ve been stressed, you might be aware that your mind and stomach are connected.
The gut-brain axis is a real phenomenon, and this constant two-way communication, when out of sync, can trigger gut and other health-related issues.
A bacterial imbalance in your stomach can compromise your abdominal comfort, bowel regularity, mood, concentration, skin health, weight, sleep and so it is really important that you keep tabs on how your tummy is feeling.
Supporting Your Gut
Whilst most of these points may seem self-explanatory, many of us take our gut health for granted. Make sure you are supporting your gut-brain axis and giving your stomach every opportunity to activate its potential and keep you healthy.
Try to avoid processed foods and sugar which are the leading causes of bacteria imbalances in your gut.
Focus on foods that have prebiotic qualities, that are high in fibre. Consider adding apples, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, asparagus and flaxseeds to your daily nutrition intake.
These foods promote friendly bacteria in your gut, assist with digestive issues and also boost your immune system.
Pick your Probiotic
Similarly to prebiotic foods, your gut also needs probiotics to create balance. As Robert Rountree, M.D., pioneer of functional medicine and an integrative physician, explains, "Probiotics are like good cops.
We're putting in the good cops, and the good cops can keep watch over the bad guys." Probiotics provide support to your gut and can alleviate bloating and gas and assist with keeping your digestive system healthy and regular.
Further to probiotics, add some fermented foods to your diet to give yourself an extra boost. Cultured foods are readily available these days, so see what works for you. Adding sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha and yoghurt is a good start.
Eliminate the Triggers
Take note of the way your body responds to certain foods. If you feel bloated after consuming dairy, work on slowly eliminating it from your diet and see how your body feels.
Be aware of your energy levels after consuming certain foods and make note of the foods that leave you constipated, or make your skin break out.
Long term exposure to foods that cause these symptoms can lead to severely compromising your immune system so it is really important to listen to what your body is telling you.
Allergy testing does not always offer a conclusive answer so consider asking your nutritionist about an elimination diet so you can work out your food triggers.
Make Sure You Move
Aerobic exercise has been proven to increase the number of friendly bacteria in your digestive tract, which in turn assists with the diversity of the bacteria in your gut. By exercising regularly, you are giving your body a fighting chance to balance out your bacteria, which in turn means your tummy will be happy and healthy.
In conclusion, do not underestimate the issues that can be caused by ignoring the signs your stomach is showing you. There is much more to gut health than simply having a regular bowel movement.
Start with taking stock and listening to your body. Identify what upsets your tummy, reduce your stress levels with some aerobic exercise and start with small changes to your diet.
As your bacteria balances out and your gut-brain axis sends happier messages, your serotonin levels will increase and you will find yourself more motivated to make better, healthier and more sustainable choices that enable you to activate your full potential.
Body20 Members get access to Nutrition Doctors and Wellness Coaches who are on call to assist with nutritional advice.
Find out more about how to kickstart your holistic health by booking a free demo at your nearest Body20 Studio.