So, you want to live a healthier and more balanced life, but where to begin when it comes to your diet? In more than one way, your gut is a great starting point. My tips on how to improve your gut health.
Why is the gut important?
From feeling bloated and constipated to diarrhoea and stomach cramps, these are all symptoms that something isn’t right with your gut health. Recent research indicates that if we focus on developing the good bacteria in our intestines, we not only boost our overall immune system, but we also lose weight and prevent illnesses.
Although nobody likes to talk about their gut health – except in my family where we talk about it ALL the time due to my husband’s gut health healing journey – it is worthy of a conversation, even if it’s just one with yourself to explore if you feel your digestive system is working the way it should. Rather than covering up the symptoms with over the counter drugs, isn’t it better to actually find out what is going on and figure out a way to heal your gut?
The area of gut health research was rather non-existent until in 2014, Henrik Bjørn Nielsen was able to map 500 gut bacteria which were previously unknown, and all indications point to the fact these are linked to our health and illnesses. We now know that 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Therefore, being kind to your gut is an important player in keeping your body in balance…
So, what kind of things affect your gut flora?
Quite a lot actually… not being breast-fed as a baby, illnesses such as food poisoning, having had too many antibiotics, eating too much processed food and alcohol, being exposed to prolonged periods of stress and even sleep-deprivation has been shown to be a factor. No surprise then that illnesses such as IBS and Crohn’s disease are on the rise.
The solution is not an instant-fix, but when it comes to your overall health, it’s important to realise there are no instant fixes. No pill is going to address the cause of the issue. That’s why it’s important to understand how the body works and why you are making adjustments… knowledge truly is power and when you know the ‘why’ then it’s easier to stay on the bandwagon.
How to improve gut flora
With a few changes, your good health bacteria can thrive and a happy gut is happy body. There are the obvious things you will need to reduce in your diet: sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed food. Then there is also the focus on good quality sleep and making sure you are not exposed to long periods of stress (Pilates is a good way to de-stress! See how Pilates has helped me in my life.).
In addition, adding fermented foods to your diet which are pro-biotic and unpasteurised and rich in thousands of good bacteria are like a vitamin injection for your gut. Drinking a glass of Kombucha (fermented tea) or adding a tea spoon of Kefir to your yoghurt will have an instant impact. We know because we have experienced the effects ourselves… it’s rather amazing!
We need to add that if you are seeing little improvement by making these changes, then it is worth talking to a nutritional therapist who can advise on which supplements can help the healing journey.
Having been there, I know how daunting it can be to make lifestyle changes as habits sometimes feel unbreakable, like you depend on them. What I also know is that your health is absolutely worth it, and the fact you’ll lose a few pounds on the way is a nice bonus…
– Axt-Gadermann, M. (2016). Gezonde Darmen voor een slanke lijn. Deltas.
– Web: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3882397/
– Web: http://sciencenordic.com/new-study-completes-mapping-our-gut-bacteria