July 7, 2022

Improve your Gut Health

Gut health is one of the keys to health and well-being. The gut not only digests our food, absorbs nutrients, creates energy, eliminates toxins and discards waste (processes that are critical to our health), it also controls our immune responses, hormone balance, serotonin production and brain function. 

Have you heard the term ‘gut microbiome’? Health professionals and health conscious people alike are paying attention to this specific area of our constitution. Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms and genetic material that live in our intestinal tract, and is unique to each one of us. These microorganisms are critical to our digestive system and other important processes, like the ones mentioned above. 

There are many signs that can indicate our gut microbiome isn’t in the best shape. These signs can include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, weight gain, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, irregular moods and food cravings. Poor gut health can also lead to more chronic illnesses. 

The key is to maintain the balance of microbes and bacteria in our gut, so that it can perform at its best. Here are a few actions we can take… 

  • Increase consumption of organic, unprocessed, local and in-season food. This extends to consuming things like grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, and pastured pork, poultry and eggs (see ‘Food Labels Explained).
  • Increase consumption of probiotic-rich fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, kimchi and tempeh.
  • Increase consumption of prebiotic foods (the compounds that feed good bacteria and microorganisms) like chicory, dandelion greens, onions, garlic, asparagus, apples, chickpeas, lentils and flaxseeds.
  • Stress can strain the gut and our body’s ability to digest food properly. Try reducing stress levels with daily mindful practices like light exercise, journaling, sleep music, preparing extra nourishing food and drink, and earthing.
  • Earthing is a grounding practice that reconnects your body’s electrical rhythms with the earth and resets your circadian rhythm. Its said to reduce stress and improve immune fuction. Perform grounding by simply walk barefoot on natural earth (like the grass or sand) and take some deep breaths. 
  • Ensure you get 8 hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep.
  • Vitamin D can increase the diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut. Boost your vitamin D production by increasing your exposure to sunlight.
  • Consider removing foods that could potentially irritate your gut, such as gluten, dairy, refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine and soy. This will be different from person to person. Chat with a health practitioner to determine what might be irritating your own gut.
  • Try a gut microbiome test to determine the unique roadmap of your gut and help identify the root cause of any health concerns. This test can be administered by health practitioners but you can also try our easy, at home test. 
  • While your diet is critically important, talk to a health practitioner about supplements, like broad spectrum probiotics, vitamins and digestive enzymes. 

While these are some steps to help improve your gut health, remember to consult your doctor or health practitioner before carrying out any lifestyle changes. 

Written by: Michelle Cloete