How to Naturally Improve your Gut Health
Words by Caitriona Potter
Many marketing strategies are using the words ‘Gut health’ to sell certain products to us as consumers. Symptoms of poor gut health can include; brain fog, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhoea and can interrupt our quality of life. It is no wonder then that we will try anything to solve this issue, regardless of cost but improving our gut health doesn’t require expensive products. Assessing our mental health, and our relationship with food and making simple changes to each area over time will lead to a calmer and healthier digestive system. We are sharing 4 ways to naturally improve your gut health and get you back on track to feeling your best
Assess your mental health
Our digestive system is linked to our brain via the gut-brain axis. When cortisol is high, the body goes into fight or flight mode, which is the opposite of rest and digestion. Chronic stress can lead to gastric reflux, constipation, cramps, and/or diarrhoea. Work on stress reducing techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and any other activity which improves your mental health. Magnesium citrate supports digestion and mental health as it is a nervous system relaxant which can also be taken before bed to induce deep sleep. Consider supplementing 200/400 mg of magnesium to bring balance back into your body.
Support your gut motility
The movement of food along the digestive tract can be facilitated by eating every 3 to 4 hours. This will also support metabolism. Long periods of fasting puts pressure on your gut, due to higher cortisol, which will cause cramping and slower digestion.
Feed your good bacteria.
The gut microbiome consists of a number of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria known as probiotics. A probiotic supplement simply adds in a number of these good bacteria into the microbiome. To ensure the good ones thrive, feed them with prebiotics such as yoghurt, a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fibre. Probiotic supplements must be taken for a course of 3 months or longer but are not necessary as our body produces them. What’s more important is feeding them and ensuring they thrive with good nutrition.
Avoid triggers such as stimulants and artificial sweeteners.
Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine are harmful to gut health in high doses as the body can become reliant on them for the digestive process. For example, drinking coffee on an empty stomach raises cortisol and flushes out the digestive system, which means it is not working optimally and naturally. Sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame trigger cramping and bloating as they are difficult to break down. Natural food products without artificial sweeteners are optimal.
Remember to always check with your doctor before taking any supplements and to speak to a professional if symptoms persist