How to keep your gut happy
“I’ve got a gut feeling”
“It feels like butterflies in my stomach”
You’ve probably heard these comments before, if not experienced them yourself. ‘Gut health’ continues to be ‘buzz words’ in today’s wellness world and for good reason. A happy digestive system can improve our overall health as well as our mood and general wellbeing. The best part is, taking care of our gut doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive.
Your gut (digestive system) begins in your mouth. And ends… well you know where it ends. The main role of your gut is to absorb nutrients and water and to expel toxins and other things that shouldn’t enter our bodies. It provides a barrier between us and ‘the outside world’.
A happy healthy gut needs a few things to continue to function optimally. These include
- a healthy balance of bacteria
- a strong immune system
- and naturally, an intact lining.
When our gut is distressed, we may notice a number of things in our bodies including bloating, headaches, sensitivities to certain foods, skin issues, joint pain and even disturbed sleep. Our immune system can also become weakened, and we may notice increased fatigue amongst other things.
So, what can we do about it? Firstly, you should always speak to a medical professional if you are concerned about your health. But when it comes to giving our gut the love it deserves, it’s really not rocket science and it’s often the simplest things that will have the greatest effect.
Start with getting as much natural and homemade food as you can.
In particular, be mindful of including foods that are high in fibre such as fruit, veggies, legumes and whole grains. These provide food for our microbiome as well as providing us with an effective ‘cleaning out’ system thanks to fibre. When we add in a variety of natural foods as often as our budget and time allows we’re well on our way to a healthy gut.
In addition to this, you may want to experiment with some probiotic foods, such as fermented foods. Many of these foods are rich in lactobacilli, a type of bacteria that can benefit your digestive system and health overall. Fermented foods, particularly plain, natural yogurt, can benefit the microbiota by enhancing its function and reducing the abundance of unhelpful bacteria in the intestines. Some other fun ferments include kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir. Give them a go, they are tasty and if you make them yourself, are cost effective as well.
Not only do our microbiota need to be balanced and plentiful, it also helps to keep them happy by feeding them the foods they love. Prebiotics are foods that promote the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut. They are mainly fibre or complex carbs that can’t be digested by human cells. Instead, certain species of bacteria break them down and use them for fuel. Many fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain prebiotics, but they can also be found on their own. Resistant starch can also be prebiotic. This type of starch is not absorbed in the small intestine. Rather, it passes into the large intestine where it is broken down by the microbiota.
Where can we find resistant starch? Potatoes and rice that have been cooked then cooled are great forms of resistant starch as are green(ish) bananas. Green banana flour can also be purchased and is great for smoothies and baking.
Consider some boosters.
If your diet is lacking in variety for any reason at all, it may be helpful to consider some supplements to support your gut. This could be a digestive enzyme or probiotic for example. Good Green Vitality is a great all-around product that Nuzest provides. It has a number of ingredients that help to regulate inflammation and support healthy immune function. They also use ingredients that your body will be able to easily digest and absorb. Not only that but it contains fibre, probiotics and other ingredients to help keep things ‘moving’.
I take mine daily with a couple of scoops of Nuzest Smooth Vanilla Clean Lean Protein (also very easy to digest) shaken or stirred with water.
Be mindful of stress.
One of the biggest contributors to an unhappy gut - surprisingly (or not so surprisingly?) is daily stress in our lives. Even a stressful or rushed eating experience can have a greater impact on bloating than the food we’ve eaten (and no doubt blamed the bloat on). There are lots of ways to reduce stress in our lives and what works for one person may not work for everyone, but it’s important to understand the impact stress has on our digestive system so we can be mindful of our daily stresses and take active steps, when we’re aware of stress, to reduce the feelings of stress in our bodies. This can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths when we feel that anxious feeling in our tummy or trying to go to bed a little bit earlier tonight.
And so, while you don’t need fancy food products and expensive supplements to keep your digestive system happy, a variety of natural foods, stress reduction and a few boosters such as Good Green Vitality and Clean Lean Protein can make a big difference overall.
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.