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11 Ways To Improve Gut Health

Do you experience any digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, reflux, heartburn, nausea, urgency, constipation or undigested food/mucus in your stool?

These symptoms can show up if we:


  • Eat too fast

  • Insufficiently chewing our food

  • Produce inadequate digestive enzymes, stomach acid or bile

  • Have an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut (dysbiosis)

  • Are under chronic stress

  • Have food or chemical sensitivities

  • Medication side effects (example: Metformin)

  • Inflammation and permeability in the digestive mucosa (leaky gut)

  • Overuse antibiotics

  • Have a bacterial, parasitic or viral infection

  • Have candida overgrowth

  • Have a poor quality diet or nutrient deficiencies

  • Have histamine intolerance

  • Have irritable bowel syndrome or bowel disease


Interestingly what appears to be digestive issues can also be the result of reproductive or menstrual cycle problems such as endometriosis, fibroids or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). So it's important to first, rule this out.

Why a Healthy Gut Matters?


The gut is where we eliminate waste, absorb our nutrients, clear out hormones, fight off infection and make our brain chemicals. If the gut is not in good shape our whole body will suffer. Our gut health suffers if we eat a diet low in fibre and probiotics, and high in processed foods, additives, bad fats and refined sugars. The overuse of medications and consumption of drugs and alcohol are also detrimental.



How To Improve Your Gut Health Naturally


1) Drink Bone Broth Make your own or purchase in-store. Choose organic and free-range options when possible. Bone broth is full of gelatin for collagen production which is incredibly healing to your mucosa (the inner surface of the stomach) and, as a bonus, it's excellent for skin health.


2) Eat Bitter Foods Did you know that our digestive tract has bitter taste buds? When these are stimulated, we produce digestive enzymes and bile which support the healthy breakdown of food. Try cruciferous vegetables (sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli), cacao, grapefruit, citrus fruits, chicory, cauliflower, artichokes, and dandelion root tea.

3) Eat Fermented Foods Regularly When we eat fermented foods, we eat the beneficial bacteria – the probiotics – that the food contains. This is important because we need a diverse population of bacteria in our gut for better digestion, improved mood, and increased immunity. Some examples can include kombucha, kimchi, miso and yoghurt.

4) Choose Cooked Over Raw This encourages blood flow to our abdomen and helps our digestive system to break down and absorb nutrients. Think soups, roast veggies, stir-fried foods, stews and anything cooked in the slow cooker. Add turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger to meals and smoothies.

5) Avoid Food That Worsens Symptoms Common irritants can include gluten, dairy, refined sugar, raw food, fructooligosaccharides, alcohol, spicy food, and caffeine. Steer clear of all additives, preservatives, colourings, MSG, anti-caking agents and sulphites.

6) Drink Herbal Tea A small cup of herbal tea such as peppermint, chamomile, ginger, cardamom, fennel, or cinnamon (all without black tea) can enhance digestion. One tbsp of ACV in water before meals works as well.

7) Mucilaginous Foods These provide a protective layer and help manage inflammation. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Slippery elm powder - 1 tbsp mashed into a banana

  • Soaked chia or flaxseed - 1 tbsp soaked in a glass of water

  • Pure aloe vera juice - 25 ml morning and night (You can also simply eat the gel inside the fresh leaf.)

  • Psyllium husk – 1 tsp mixed in a tall glass of water. Take with caution if you have sensitive digestion.


8) Take Digestive Enzymes Digestive enzymes assist in breaking down the food we eat and alleviate digestive symptoms. I highly recommend them when there is an outing where you may have little control over what food you're served.



Lifestyle Adaptations To Improve Your Gut


There are some lifestyle changes you can also make to improve gut health, relieve indigestion, and say goodbye to bloating.

9) Eat Slowly Bacteria, fungi, and yeast in your digestive tract are more likely to feed on food that is only partially digested. This then leads to fermentation and uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating and gas. Make sure to eat with mindfulness and chew well for proper digestion. 10) Eat When Relaxed Digestion is hugely affected by your emotional state. Stress impairs the secretion of digestive enzymes. This leads to poorly digested food and imbalances in protective bacteria in the gut. Try to reduce stress before meal times and talk through your feelings with a loved one or health practitioner. Try mindfulness or meditation before eating to feel calmer and ensure healthy digestion.

11) Get Enough Sleep Making sure you get enough sleep is important for optimal gut health. Try to prioritise getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. For better sleep try to avoid eating a few hours before bed (particularly foods high in sugar), avoid screens, and try reading.

Slowly try to incorporate each of these suggestions into your life and watch your digestive health transform. If you've tried this on your own and need more support, take our free assessment or book our 'Heal Your Gut' Package here. Through private consultation we can prescribe you the right supplements and decide on the best dietary advice to overcome your symptoms for good!

References

Aucoin, M., Lalonde-Parsi, M. J., & Cooley, K. (2014). Mindfulness-based therapies in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders: a meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2014, 140724. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177184/ Dale, H. F., Rasmussen, S. H., Asiller, Ö. Ö., & Lied, G. A. (2019). Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(9), 2048. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6769995/ Graham, D. Y., Ketwaroo, G. A., Money, M. E., & Opekun, A. R. (2018). Enzyme therapy for functional bowel disease-like post-prandial distress. Journal of digestive diseases, 19(11), 650–656. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6910206/ Iovino, P., Bucci, C., Tremolaterra, F., Santonicola, A., & Chiarioni, G. (2014). Bloating and functional gastro-intestinal disorders: where are we and where are we going?. World journal of gastroenterology, 20(39), 14407–14419. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202369/" Janssen, S., Laermans, J., Verhulst, P. J., Thijs, T., Tack, J., & Depoortere, I. (2011). Bitter taste receptors and -gustducin regulate the secretion of ghrelin with functional effects on food intake and gastric emptying. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(5), 2094–2099. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033292/ Mulak, A., Taché, Y., & Larauche, M. (2014). Sex hormones in the modulation of irritable bowel syndrome. World journal of gastroenterology, 20(10), 2433–2448. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3949254/

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