Let’s talk about gut health. It’s an idea that has gained plenty of momentum as essential to our overall health and, more than ever, we have a greater understanding of its importance.
Why? Our bodies are packed full of trillions of bacteria, but we need the right balance of both good and bad to produce essential nutrients and for proper digestion to take place.
However, maintaining a healthy gut means way more than just having a happy, healthy tummy. In fact, having a healthy gut has massive benefits to our overall health and wellbeing and there are five things I want you to think about how gut health affects you.
1. Mental health
Imbalances of bacteria and associated inflammation in the gut have been linked with mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Studies show our hormones and neurotransmitters that communicate between the gut and brain are seriously influenced by the balance of bacteria in our gut.
2. Weight loss
Appetite control, fat storage and balance of blood-sugar levels are influenced by our gut health via the hormones that are produced by our gastrointestinal microbes, suggesting that our gut health can definitely influence weight loss.
3. Risk of disease
Our microbiome (make-up of gastrointestinal bacteria) can determine our risk of contracting disease. Diets that are high in refined foods, high in sugar and low in fibre can cause adverse effects on our gut health and the associated risks of disease.
Up to 75 per cent of our immune system can be found in our gastrointestinal tract. So basically, if you can boost the good bacteria in your gut this will help to boost your immunity.
Ever heard of the idea that the gut is like our second brain? This is because our gut is responsible for transmitting chemical messages of its own, which are separate from the brain. The gut produces around 90 per cent of the body’s mood-calming neurotransmitter, known as serotonin, so basically a healthy gut can equal enhanced mood.
Here are my five tips to get you on your way to a healthier gut.
1. Increase your prebiotic intake
Prebiotics are a type of fibre that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria and can be found in bananas, green vegetables, oats and apples (just to name a few).
2. Introduce probiotic-rich foods into your diet
This can help restore the gut to a healthy state, so think about including yoghurt in your diet, as well as fermented vegetables like pickles and kimchi.
3. Stress less
I’ll admit, this is often easier said than done, but stress is something that the gut is extremely vulnerable to. Try to manage your stress levels and think about de-stressing in natural ways, such as through exercise and meditation.
4. Boost your fibre intake
Think about packing fibre-rich foods such as veggies, fruit, legumes and beans to increase your daily fibre intake.
5. Reduce your processed food and sugar intake
When we eat too much sugar, we get an imbalance of bad bacteria in our gut. Try to cut down on your intake of processed food and this will not only improve your gut health but massively benefit your diet as a whole.