No doubt about it. Your gut is so important to your overall wellbeing. When your gut is not looked after, if causes a multitude of bodily and mental problems. By making the right food choices in your lifestyle, you can keep your gut healthy. Most of the problem of a bad gut arises from the way we live, sometimes forced upon us, and sometimes totally our own fault. There is a difference between a badly or inadequately fed gut, to a simple upset tummy.
Sometimes you need to give your gut a holiday, a break away from foods that potentially cause your gut not to perform as it should.
Facts about your gut
Some interesting facts about your gut:
- Your gut length is around 9 metres long and contains over 100 trillion bacteria, beavering away 24/7 to help your gut health. When these bacteria aren’t helped by a poor diet, they don’t survive and consequently you become ill, and nothing to fight off viruses and other invaders.
- Listen to your tummy rumbles and grumbles. They are trying to tell you something (not necessarily threatening, but a warning sign that something isn’t quite right). Between 15-20% of people in the UK alone suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome – this percentage would significantly increase when you think about some countries where a healthy diet is just not possible.
- Giving your gut a ‘holiday’ or a break, almost a cleansing or soothing period (around a month), you can repair many situations caused by an upset gut.
- The circumstances most occuring when your gut is in a turmoil are overeating, choosing the wrong foods, and antibiotics. Whilst the latter is used to help get rid of unfriendly viruses or gut illnesses, it removes ‘friendly bacteria’ at the same time. Other reasons can be not chewing properly (gastric juices act more efficiently on small morsels of food), insufficient soluble fibre intake, food intolerance/sensitivities.
If you keep going through periods of stomach problems, it would well be worth taking a Ultimate Health to potentially rule out any foods that may be causing an issue.
Alcohol can also upset your gut microbiome, as can outside influences such as stress or anxiety. Bearing in mind that what you eat affects your mental health, to a certain extent the wrong diet will do. Remember, your gut sends messages to your brain.
For clarification, your gut microbiome refers to the 200 or so different viruses, bacteria and fungi that need to thrive inside you to prevent certain stomach complaints. Without these, you would virtually have no protection from illnesses of this type at all. So you see how important your gut microbiome is.
On top of this, scientific research has found more and more connections between gut health and other parts of the body, with great regularity. A gut that is not treated with care and the right kind of foods can result in, but not limited to:
- Brain health – thinking, communicating, reasoning and memory
- Heart Health – eating fatty foods can clog up arteries
- Auto-immune disease
- Endocrine and gastrointestinal health
- Life threatening illnesses (e.g. cancer, heart attacked and strokes)
What might be the symptoms of an unhealthy gut?
You could experience the following problems:
- Frequent tummy upsets
- Ever-increasing tendency towards illnesses, from frequency of viral infections, to uncontrollable gas and dyspepsia
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bad sleeping habits and fatigue
- Skin conditions (psoriasis, certain forms of eczema, generally itchy, irritable skin)
- Food intolerances that are new to you (inability to digest certain foods, generally due to poor quality bacteria in the gut)
As you can see, there are many potential symptoms. The thing to look out for is recurrent symptoms that you have never had before, that may worsen if you don’t get them checked out.
Steps you can take towards a healthier gut
Think of your gut as the gateway to your overall health, as its performance does affect the majority of your body and brain. Before discussing individual foods, take steps to your lifestyle in a healthier fashion, following these tips.
Cut down on refined sugar consumption and processed foods, it has no real use in a healthy diet. Exercise as much as is feasible for you, and drink plenty of water. Include probiotics in your diet, and plenty of wholegrains and fibre. If you have never tried before, change your bread products to gluten-free – (another reason to take a test) which may be the cause of some of the above symptoms. Only take antibiotics when totally necessary and also try to avoid excess anxiety or stress, probably one of the most difficult to do (work plays a significant part in increasing stress levels).
Best food groups for gut health
Improving your gut health is not a lot different to eating a healthy diet, full stop. But researchers and scientists recommend the following groups and examples:
High Fibre foods – wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts
Fermented foods – kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, kvass etc
A quick word about ‘garlic’. In spite of it potentially giving you ‘smelly breath’, garlic is a clever bulb, that has properties that kill off unwanted bacteria in your gut. At the same time, due to its prebiotic qualities, promotes the healthy bacteria that you need, at the same time! So, if you enjoy the flavour of garlic, put it in everything you can, within reason!
Doctors, nutritionists and dieticians, along with scientists and researchers cannot emphasise enough the importance of your gut when it comes to health and wellness. People can get away with most things at a younger age, but as times goes on, it’s wise to pay attention to this important and complex organ.