Five ways to look after your gutPosted on: 11 April 2019 by Eloise Craven-Todd
Busy lives, convenience diets and everyday stresses all contribute to put a burden on your gut health. Here, Eloise Craven-Todd reveals five little kindnesses for your tummy.
Gut health is one of the more complicated medical conversations at the moment, however, having a healthy gut is incredibly important for overall health and wellbeing. The body’s second brain, your gut and its complex bacteria can affect your overall mood, immune system, mental health, skin and other health conditions such as IBS, when unbalanced.
“Many people are surprised to learn that the beneficial bacteria living in their gut can affect their brain”, explained Deborah Colson, a nutritionist at Re:Cognition Health. She went on to add: “The gut consists of a complex ecosystem made up of trillions of different microbiome which are essential for brain health due to the constant two-way communication going on between gut and brain.” It is, therefore, essential that your gut health is as chipper as the rest of your body.
Here are five ways you can ensure you have good gut health:
Eat the rainbow
Dietician Jo Travers revealed that eating a more plant-based diet can help improve your gut health. She explained that to keep your gut bacteria thriving, you need to feed them well. A recent study found that people who eat 30 or more different plant foods each week are likely to have a much more varied gut microbiota than those who consume 10 or fewer.
Nutritional Therapist, Madeleine Shaw, agrees and revealed that an easy way to ensure you are eating a variety of plants and vegetables is to look at the colours you’re eating. The more colours on your plate, the better that meal is for your gut.
Jo explained that stress – physical or psychological – can trigger a chain reaction in the body. This causes the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes an abnormality in the communication pathways between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This can mean changes to blood flow and secretions in the gut, which can create better conditions for pathological bacteria and inhibit the growth of some helpful bacteria. It can also affect the movement of food through the gut and can result in either constipation or diarrhoea.
Avoid unnecessary antibiotics
Antibiotics are essential for fighting infections as they kill nasty bacteria, but they also kill all the other bacteria in your body, including the beneficial ones in your gut, explained Jo. This can increase susceptibility to infections and decrease the diversity of bacteria in the gut, which I essential for gut health. While this is a risk worth taking if you have a bacterial infection, if you are suffering from a virus like the common cold, the antibiotics won’t make you better and will kill your helpful bacteria.
A recent study from Bio-Kult revealed that probiotic supplements containing 14 strains of “gut-friendly” bacteria have been shown to not only dramatically improve abdominal pain in IBS patients but reduce anxiety too. In the study of 360 patients who had IBS with diarrhoea as their predominant symptom (IBS-D); those patients who took the probiotic supplement containing 14 strains of “gut-friendly” bacteria, reported a 69 per cent decrease in abdominal pain, compared to 47 per cent in a group who took a placebo. Taking probiotics daily is an easy way to ensure you’re gut is gaining all the healthy bacteria it needs. However, if you are suffering from severe IBS symptoms, it’s better to talk to a dietitian first before introducing anything new into your diet.
If you prefer a more natural approach to taking probiotics, including kefir into your diet is an effective and tasty alternative. Kefir is full of probiotics such as lactic acid bacteria, which aids digestion, reduces inflammation within the digestive system and supports a healthy gut. Odysea, who have just launched their Organic range, has just released an organic Kefir made in Greece using fresh, organic goat’s milk. It’s a delicious breakfast milk substitute.
Be mindful over mealtimes
Madeleine, who has recently teamed up with supplement experts BioCare, revealed that mindful eating has been a huge game changer for improving her own gut health. Small steps like putting your phone away during mealtimes can help your digestion and reduce nasty IBS flare-ups. Similarly, keeping a food diary can help improve your gut health as you can start to see patterns and triggers that may be causing an imbalance. Madeleine explained that she advices all of her clients who are suffering from gut issues to start a food diary and log every meal which may then highlight some key trigger foods to stay away from.
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