The importance of a healthy gut cannot be underestimated, but it is often something that is overlooked. How do you know if this is something of concern for you? Some signs and symptoms of having a gut issue can include one or more of the following symptoms: uncomfortable bloating, indigestion, appetite issues, excess wind, loose bowels, difficulty in moving bowels, moving bowels more than 3 times a day or less than once a day, pain or discomfort before or after eating, pain or discomfort in the gut, headaches, fatigue, bad breath and skin issues.
Gut health is an important part of health and wellbeing for everyone!
Why is our gut health so important? Did you know that your ‘gut’ starts at your mouth and finishes at your anus? This remarkable system known as the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) contains blood vessels, nerve endings, mucosal tissue, muscle tissue, exocrine glands and accessory organs (gall bladder, liver, pancreas). Food enters the body to be digested, absorbed, metabolised (processed) and excreted.
The nerve cells lining the GIT are known as the enteric nervous system and they have a direct connection to our brain. Hence the term brain-gut connection. We all know the feeling of “butterflies” in our stomach before taking an exam or giving an important presentation. This refers to a fluttery sensation which can make us feel nervous, nauseous and makes our heart beat faster – a prime example of the brain-gut connection, which is a physical reaction to the psychlogical stress your brain is feeling.
This is why it is so important to be mindful of what we feed our brain and our body in terms of thoughts and food as these directly affect our brain and gut health.
Everything we consume needs to be digested effectively in order for our bodies to absorb and process all the required nutrients for life.
Our top tips to improve your gut health:
- Regularly achieve a relaxed state to relieve stress and improve digestion. When stressed the sympathetic nervous system dominates over the parasympathetic, directing blood flow and energy away from the digestive tract to the muscles and brain to co-ordinate fight or flight mode. Learning to calm the mind and body prior to meals will assist with digestion.
- Chew food well and eat slowly to allow the start of the digestive process with enzyme release from salivary glands, triggering chemical digestion to commence in the stomach.
- Eat unprocessed, natural whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, dairy and meat to support energy levels, mood, strength, stamina, individual cellular processes and major organ function.
- Include 7-10 serves daily of dark leafy greens and colourful vegetables in the diet, chop, slice, grate, raw, roast, or steam. One serve is one of your handfuls.
- Include bitter foods such as radicchio, endive, mustard greens, chicory, dandelion leaves, cos, silverbeet and grapefruit to aid digestion by stimulating bile flow.
- Ensure your daily diet contains fibre sourced from whole foods, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.
- Fermented foods contain pre and probiotics that support the GITs natural flora.
- Drink 1.5-2L of filtered water and herbal teas daily.
If you want to learn more about your gut health, or if you are currently experiencing a gut related health issue such as IBS, IBD, Coeliac, Crohn’s, candida, dysbiosis, allergies, intolerances, skin issues, autoimmune disease, menstrual and menopausal issues, UTI’s or recurrent infections, you would benefit from making an appointment with one of our Holistic Medical Centre Health Practitioners. We can provide a thorough consultation and functional testing to investigate the root cause of your issues, and support you with a manageable treatment plan guiding you to your optimal health.
Please note: some people with gut issues are unable to tolerate high fibre, fermented or raw food diet, especially during acute phases of illness – consult your Holistic Medical Centre Naturopath for dietary guidance.