Ask a naturopath: What are some easy ways to improve my gut health?
BY CAMILLE O'BRIEN | NATUROPATH
There’s a reason why the gut is referred to as “the second brain” – our gut has a role to play in everything from regulating hormones to eliminating toxins.
It even has an impact on our brain function and immune response (did you know 70% of our immune cells and more than 80% of our neurotransmitters are created in the gut?!).
An unhealthy gut doesn’t only mean you’ll have to deal with digestive dramas. The effects can also take a toll on your immune system, skin health, and even your mental wellbeing.
Maintaining good gut health doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
There's no need to invest in colonics or spend hundreds each month on specialty products.
In fact, the best ways to improve your gut health are simple, cheap, and easy to implement.
For better gut health, cut back on these 3 things:
1. Drink less alcohol
Excess consumption of alcohol can cause inflammation and damage to your gut lining, as well as wreak havoc to your gut microbiome. This can lead to bloating, nausea, heartburn, and general digestive pain.
Even slightly reducing how much alcohol you drink can hugely improve your gut health.
2. Reduce your sugar intake
Refined sugar can cause inflammation and damage the gut microbiome, leading to overgrowth of unwanted bacteria. This imbalance can actually lead to further sugar cravings, which in turn, causes further damage.
Reducing (not removing!) refined sugar from your diet will help the “good” in your gut thrive.
3. Cut down on processed foods
Foods that provide little nutritional value, contain highly inflammatory processed oils, sugars, and artificial ingredients are not friendly to our gut.
If you switch out some of our not-so-healthy snack choices for healthier options, or swap that fast food dinner for a homemade meal, you’ll notice a huge difference in your gut health, energy levels, mood, and general wellbeing.
For better gut health, get more of these 3 things:
1. Introduce more prebiotics and probiotics
We’ve all heard of probiotics, the good bacteria that keep our gut happy and healthy, but what about prebiotics?
Prebiotic fibre is essential for feeding and maintaining a diverse colony of good gut warriors. Prebiotics work hand-in-hand with probiotics to keep your gut health functioning optimally.
Some of my favourite sources of prebiotics are:
- • Asparagus
- • Jerusalem artichoke
- • Garlic, onion, and leeks
- • Bananas
- • Raw honey
Good food sources of probiotics are:
- • Sauerkraut and kimchi
- • Kombucha
- • Yoghurt and kefir
2. Diversify your diet
Eating a diverse range of foods is essential for providing a wide variety of fibre and micronutrients for our body.
An easy way to increase diversity in your diet is to add a completely new fruit or vegetable that you’ve never tried before to your supermarket haul each week, or alternate between different colours of the same fruits or vegetables.
Different colours of fruits and vegetables contain different phytochemicals and micronutrients – so increasing diversity will ensure we are getting a good variety of nutrients.
3. Introduce mindful eating
When we eat in a relaxed state, our digestion is going to work a lot more effectively.
This is because our body, rather than being in ‘fight or flight’ mode (when our sympathetic nervous system takes over), will be in what we call ‘rest & digest’ mode (where the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge).
On top of stimulating better digestion, mindful eating will also help you avoid over or under-eating.
Listen to your gut
Listen to your gut – if you feel like your gut health isn’t functioning as well as it should, implement these easy tweaks. You’ll be surprised by what a big difference they make.
Hi, I’m Camille!
As Mister Jones’s in-house naturopath, I’m passionate about helping women improve their health and get more out of life.
Got a question, want to chat through your health circumstances, or just want to say hi? Get in touch with me at [email protected] – I’d love to hear from you.
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