Im so pleased that gut health is beginning to take more of a centre stage, thanks to the work of people like Professor Tim Spectre. For the last 6 months I've really been striving to take more care of my gut health and I can't tell you the improvement I've felt in terms of energy, sleep, weight, hormones, skin. So I thought I'd write a blog about what you need to know and why its so important!
Your gut and feeling good.
The gut houses millions of microscopic bugs called your microbiome. Individually they are tiny but together they weigh as much as our brain! These bugs are responsible for producing and responding to vital chemicals such as seratonin (our feel good hormone), GABA (like Seratonin is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good), noradrenalin (said to play a role in the body's stress response and helps regulate sleep, alertness and blood pressure), Dopamine (plays a key role in movement, affects motivation, perception of reality and the ability to experience pleasure), Acetylcholine (helps with memory, learning, attention, arousal and involuntary muscle movement), and Melatonin (a hormone that regulates your sleep cycles). So these are chemicals/hormones that can all affect the brain and can mean the difference between being happy or sad.
Unfortunately, we have been killing off a lot of our good bacteria due to antibiotics and poor lifestyle choices. As you can see from the above, the quality of our microbiome will directly affect depression, anxiety and your sleep.
Your gut and digestion
As well as the above, friendly gut bacteria are important for digestion. They destroy harmful bacteria and other microorganisms and produce vitamin K, folate and short-chain fatty acids
When the gut flora contains too many harmful bacteria and not enough friendly bacteria, an imbalance can occur. This is known as dysbiosis.
Both dysbiosis and a reduction in gut flora diversity have been linked to insulin resistance, weight gain, inflammation, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.
Therefore, it’s important to keep your gut bacteria as friendly and abundant as possible.
Your gut and your immune system
Immune cells in the gut interact with the microbiome and are directly influenced by an individual's diet and lifestyle. The foods we eat affect the diversity and composition of bacteria in the gut, which in turn affect immune cells. So you could argue that an unbalanced diet could affect immune cells which in turn will affect your overall health.
What can I do to ensure a healthy gut microbiome?
*. Eat as varied a diet as possible. Eat up to 30 different types of plant a week to maximise the diversity of species of good bacteria in your gut. This could include nuts, seeds, pulses, herbs, spices as well as fruit and vegetables.
* Eat a rainbow of colours. This will ensure you get a variety of important vitamins and nutrients that can prevent diseases. Ensure that half your plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. Bewell Superfood Greens is a fantastic supplement if you are like me and struggle to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. One scoop of this vegan superfood powder delivers a blend of 36 fruits and vegetables in each serving for a boost of greens and provides the benefits of eating the full colour spectrum of fruits and vegetables.
* Eat a balanced plate of food. half your plate should be fruits and veg, 1/4 whole grains (whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta), 1/4 protein and a thumb sized amount of healthy fat e.g. extra virgin olive oil (olive oil if used in cooking), avocado etc
* Eat more fermented foods. Try Kombucha - there are some delicious ones out there at the moment. Try Kefir. Try Sauerkraut.
* Cut out ultra processed food.
* Cut down on sugar (there is some research that says that too much sugar can affect the composition of your gut microbiome including the amounts of beneficial bacteria. Plus, and I've definitely found this to be true, the more sugar you consume, the more sugar cravings you get).
As well as the above I highly recommend taking Probiotics (friendly bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the bacteria). However its important that you take one that does survive the acid in the stomach. Gut Health is a fantastic supplement which is very easy to take. Simply mix it with water and drink approx 30 minutes before your meal (once a day). It contains probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes. And very importantly its not activated until it reaches your gut so you can ensure that more bacteria will get through. Taking Gut Health supplement can really help with bloating and digestion issues.
And finally, for immediate relief from digestive and tummy complaints in general be it indigestion, heartburn, tummy ache, bloating, and nausea do have a look at my Digestive essential oil blend. I chose essential oils that have been researched to help with these issues. You can either add 6-7 drops to a tablespoon of Sweet Almond oil and massage into your tummy. Or alternatively you can add approx 5 drops to your diffuser.
I do hope this post helps. Do feel free to comment below.