Like I said in my recent blog post, 5 Signs Your Gut Needs Some TLC, the health of our gut is a pretty gosh darn vital part of our overall health.
And, sadly, one in five of us are likely to experience some tummy troubles - in the form of digestive discomfort or disorder - in our lifetime, with poor gut health being linked to other issues like skin conditions, thyroid disorders, troubles managing your weight, mental health conditions, a crappy immune system, autoimmune conditions... Ugh. Not good. And plenty of incentive to get that tum of yours nice and healthy!
So, where to begin?
These are my 10 fave ways to work on getting that gut health picture of yours looking muuuuuch prettier.
1. C H E W
Did you know that the digestive process actually starts in our mouth? By physically breaking our food down by thoroughly chewing our food, we're reducing the digestive load on our gut.
By eating mindfully - that is, really focusing your attention and all of your senses on eating + enjoying your food - we're also ensuring that our gut, brain + body all know that we're safe enough to be able to digest properly.
2. B A B Y , B Y E B Y E B Y E
Excess alcohol, caffeine + sugar? Bid them farewell. Au Revoir. Arrivederci. Adios. Aloha.
And I'm not just talking about food, here, either. You'll also want to say goodbye to unnecessary exposure to environmental nasties like cigarettes (+ second-hand smoking), pesticides, plastics (please ditch that plastic bottle you've been refilling and carting around this past month), conventional cosmetics + skincare products, etc.
3. W A R M I N G U P
Salads are fab. But warm, cooked veggies? Your gut will LOVE you for eating more of these.
Warm foods soothe the digestive system, but also ensure that things are moving + flowing as they should to a) make your life easier, and b) ensure you're maximising your absorption of VINs (very important nutrients).
Bonus points for slow-cooking, which will help begin to breakdown your foods for you.
4. P R E + P R O - B I O T I C S
Probiotics will help populate your gut's microbiome with good bacteria. Which is a good thing, considering the good gut bugs help to create balance and keep the bad guys in check.
Opt for fermented foods - like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir + kombucha - in small amounts on a regular basis to keep you topped up on the probiotic front.
When it comes to probiotic supplements, you'll want to be a little selective: there are many, many strains of probiotic, and not every strain will suit every gut. A naturopath (hola!) will be able to recommend the best one for your gut + health issues.
Prebiotics on the other hand? These provide the fuel for the good bacteria in your tum-tum. And we know how important fuel is for a well-oiled machine.
Fibre- and resistant starch-rich foods - like asparagus, artichoke, apples, broccoli, sweet potato, brown rice, banana, pawpaw + pineapple - all work beautifully as prebiotics. And the more variety, the better!
5. M O V E I T
Need yet another reason to start exercising on the reg? Sure thang.
Regular physical activity (walking, running, sweating it up at the gym, yoga, pilates, dancing...whatever it looks like for you) helps to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. While inactivity? Yeah, that'll alter your gut bacteria in a not-very-good way.
Exercising regularly will also help keep your bowel movements regular, and prevent constipation - which can wreak havoc with your overall gut health.
6. C U T T H E C R A P
Processed foods are the 2020 of dietary options (read: not the best).
To say that a highly processed diet - loaded with artificial ingredients, refined sugars + additives - isn't doing your gut health would be one of the great understatements of the decade. These little suckers will kill the good bacteria living in your gut, and will also promote inflammation (both in the tum + beyond!).
7. R O U T I N E
Eating on the reg, and meals at roughly the same times, help take the guesswork out of thangs for your gut - it'll know exactly when it needs to be on top form digestively, and when it can rest.
8. C A T C H I N ' Z Z Z s
We all have this thing called a circadian rhythm: our body's natural wake + sleep cycle.
Not getting enough quality sleep, working shifts, and even eating too close to bedtime are all things you might be doing to disrupt your circadian rhythm. And, in the process, you're actually altering the bacteria of your gut.
It's been found that those with poor sleep cycles have a microbiome rich in the kinda bacteria correlating to obesity + type 2 Diabetes (yikes).
Keep your microbiome happy by making sure you're getting plenty of shut-eye.
9. S W E E T R E L I E F
Imagine a life where your stress levels were well-managed, and where you had more resilience to stress. Glorious, huh?
Your gut will also love some time-out from stress, and from the drama it brings - like gut sensitivity, exacerbated symptoms (especially tummy pain), reduced blood flow to the digestive system, and microbiome imbalance.
10. T E A T I M E
Could soothing your gut be as simple as enjoying a cuppa? Well, considering cultures all around the globe have been using herbal teas to relieve digestive disorder for centuries: you betcha.
Great tummy teas will feature medicinal herbs like ginger, chamomile, peppermint, fennel + lemon balm.
A bit like this one, really, which combines... *ahem*... allllll of them.
So there you have it. Ten simple steps towards better gut health.
If you feel like your gut health's gone totally out the window though, why not book a one-on-one consult with me, and start your totally personalised journey towards better gut goodness?