We all know how important it is to have a well functioning gut, right? When it comes to digestive health, understanding the importance of the bacteria that live in our gut and their subsequent contribution to wellbeing is vital. So, we’ve come up with some simple and easy steps that you can take right now to make your gut microbes happier and healthier!
- Diversity. Feed your gut lots of different things. Try a new vegetable, a different wholegrain, add loads of delicious herbs and spices to your food. Diversity of food = diversity of gut bacteria. The more, the merrier.
- Feed your gut or it will feed on you. Yes, that’s right – if you don’t feed the little bugs that call your digestive system home, they’ll start to eat the next best thing. Fibre (otherwise known as a prebiotic), is what they love best and this is vital if you want to foster a healthy microbiome. A high fibre diet not only provides food for them, but also facilitates toxin removal and bowel movement consistency.
- Eat clean, live clean. Toxins in processed food and the environment are no good for gut bacteria. Pesticides and herbicides used for growing fruit and vegetables can harm or even kill off our microbes, so source organic food where you can. Feeling sluggish and gluggy? Perhaps a gentle detox is what you need – but you should only do this under the guidance of a qualified health professional. Forcing your body to detox too quickly or under the wrong conditions can be detrimental.
- Reduce stress and get plenty of sleep. Yes, even stress can affect the digestive system. The enteric nervous system governs gut function including motility and digestive secretions, and chronic stress may suppress it’s ability to do it’s job. (1)
- Exercise. Get moving…everyday. Did you know that people who exercise have better microbial diversity than those who don’t? The mechanisms behind this are not yet clear, but the research is certainly there to support it. (2)
- Probiotics. These beneficial bacteria do not colonise the gut as once thought, but rather optimise the diversity and function of those that do. These permanent inhabitants are known as our “commensal population” (3). Taking probiotics daily is like having a personal trainer for your gut, but not all probiotics are created equal so make sure you’re taking the right strain. Speak to your registered natural health practitioner or contact us for more info on this one.
- KNOW YOUR GUT! This is very important. If you are experiencing bloating, abdominal discomfort, reflux, indigestion or any other unpleasant symptoms, start a diary of when and where they occur. Monitoring your stool regularity (or irregularity) and consistency can provide a great deal of information on how your gut is functioning.
Finally, consult your practitioner. They are your best resource for practical and individual solutions to improve the health of your gut and should be your first port of call for any concerns.
If you’d like any information on gut health, or how to treat effectively the cause and not just the symptoms, feel free to contact us.
(1) Konturek, B.C., Brzozowzski, T., Konturek, S.J. (2011). Stress and the gut; pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 62(6):591-9
(2) Monda, V., et al. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3831972
(3) Sanders, M.E. (2016). Probiotics and the microbiota. BioMed Central Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0629-z