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The gut is becoming one of the most talked-about and focused areas of health improvement. From our immune system right through to the brain, having a healthy gut can help fight disease, boost your mood and energy – and even let your skin glow.
The gut is actually our gateway from the outer world to the inner world. And it’s a delicate balance between the good and the bad bacteria that needs to be maintained. When the gut flora gets out of balance due to things like poor nutrition, prolonged stress, lack of exercise or antibiotics, the proportion of inflammation-promoting bad bacteria in our gut increases, and can cause a lot of health issues.
Fortunately, the opposite can happen when you put in the effort and show your gut some love.
1. Implement Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotic foods such as fermented foods (e.g Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kombucha, Tempeh) and unsweetened yoghurts improve gut health by balancing the composition of the gut flora. They also help better digest and absorb the food we eat.
Increase prebiotics by increasing fibre intake. Fibre is the non-digestible part of plants and it’s the food for the good gut bacteria. They help you feel fuller for longer by maintaining a more consistent blood sugar level and stimulating the intestines so that your digestion feels less sluggish and you’re less constipated. Incorporate fibre gradually over a few days, especially if you’re not used to a high fibre diet, to avoid bloating. And make sure to drink plenty of water since water helps your body digest fibre and pass through your digestive tract easily.
2. Cut back on sugar and processed foods
Food processing is a very broad term, which covers any way that raw food is changed before we eat it. We have been roasting, baking, salting, broiling, chopping, freezing, grinding, drying, canning, smoking, boiling, and sweetening our foods for a very long time. But in the last few years, there has been a rise in what is known as ultra-processed foods, which often contain lots of unhealthy fats, sugar and salt, along with chemicals and preservatives.
Avoiding highly processed foods, and foods high in refined sugars is extremely important to maintaining a healthy gut flora, as these foods destroy good bacteria and promote the growth of damaging bacteria.
3. Eating mindfully
Start eating mindfully, which means having a healthy eating routine in place. Don’t rush while eating and chew your food properly. Chewing is a signal to our body to produce more enzymes, which kickstarts proper digestion of the nutrients in food. When we eat too fast we typically eat too much because we are shoving more food in faster than our body can let us know we are full. Slow down, and you will eat less. Try to focus on how the food makes you feel. Do you feel energized after your meal? Food journaling also might help to increase your awareness.
4. Stay active
The cycle is quite simple: consistent exercise improves your gut health, which improves your immune system, which then keeps you healthy. Clearly, the best combination for a healthy gut is consistent exercise and a nourishing real foods diet. So, next time you are struggling to motivate yourself, just think of the diseases you are fighting off by breaking a sweat. Cardiovascular workouts, stretching, yoga, and weight lifting are all ideal ways to get moving!
5. Lower stress levels
One of the keys to better digestion is regular stress management. Reducing stress can lower inflammation in the gut, and keep you nourished since your body can focus on absorbing the nutrients you need.
Short meditation routines along with deep breathing techniques may lower inflammation, a marker of stress in the body. In turn, this may relieve an overstressed digestive system. Give yourself a designated relaxation time every day to help both your brain and belly wind down.
To find out more about Immune and Gut health, please book a FREE initial consultation with our Health & Wellness Coach, who can guide you through the process of restoring your gut health.