With the rise of kombucha, fermented foods and probiotics, it is clear to see that the latest health trend everyone is trying to follow is gut health. With good reason, there has been an increasing amount of research and reasoning showing how important it is to maintain a healthy gut.
What is gut health?
The term “gut health” is literally referring to your stomach and the bacteria found in the digestive tract. You might be familiar with the term “good bacteria” or probiotics, which is naturally found in the digestive tract that improves the balance of healthy bacteria. It is important to note that everyone’s gut health is unique and were some types of bacteria are more present in some and less present in others. It is possible to have good gut health and bad gut health. Factors that can contribute to poor gut health is poor diet, stress and alcohol… how surprising?
How can I tell if I have good/bad gut health?
Dietitian, Chloe McLeod, has mentioned that signs of good gut health include no experiences of bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation. Similarly, you should have more energy and an overall positive feeling. In contrast, the distinguishing factors of bad gut health are loose stools, constipation, gas, foggy headed or poor moods. A large intake of foods you may be intolerant too can also lead to a negative effect on your gut health. In addition, high cortisol levels and stress can also disrupt the balance of your gut health as well as medications such as antibiotics.
What can I achieve with good gut health?
Have you ever been told ‘go with your gut’? Well there’s a reason they say that as our gut is also known as our second brain. Disturbance in the gut (whether it’s from food or situational/ environmental triggers) can send signals straight to the central nervous system that can result in mood changes, i.e. feelings of anxiety. Having optimum gut health may help you achieve weight loss as Tim Spector, author or The Diet Myth says that a higher diversity of gut microbes allows you to be more likely healthy and lean, and the least diverse your gut microbes are, the more likely you are to be overweight. Not only does good gut health aid in weight loss and digestion, you can also balance your hormones naturally by restoring your gut health. This is important to know if you’re planning on coming off the contraceptive pill or any substance that has changed the equilibrium of your hormones.
How do I look after my gut?
It’s quite straight forward and easy to maintain a healthy gut – increase the veggies and decrease the amount of alcohol and junk!
1. Eat your greens
McLeod says that eating our vegetables provides us with nutrients we need daily to maintain general health. It is also how we get our fibre to keep our gut happy. A high-fibre diet is beneficial for good gut health as it provides great nutrients for it. A great way to make sure you consume veggies and fibre are with nourish bowls – if you haven’t tried a nourish bowl, check out the ones at Miss Bliss, you’re missing out!
2. Eat foods rich in prebiotics & probiotics
It can be easy to get prebiotics and probiotics mixed up! And a lot of people will opt for probiotics when they want to improve their gut health. But prebiotics are just as important! When we consume prebiotics, it provides food for healthy bacteria to thrive off. Prebiotics are found in foods like bananas, onion, garlic, broccoli and whole grains. We should aim to get our probiotics from wholefoods that are rich with it instead of opting for supplements as there are many probiotics out there targeted for different things. Foods rich in probiotics include yoghurt, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso.
3. Watch your alcohol and junk food consumption
If you are going to drink, make you stay hydrated. However, if your goal is to really optimise your gut health, cut out the alcohol completely for a while as it negatively impacts your gut health. In terms of junk food, reduce the amount of fatty and sugary foods or try and eat a big meal full of veggies after a naughty meal.
Supplements that will make your gut happy
There is a plethora of products out in the market today for your gut which is fantastic. Two of my favourite products that I have found to be beneficial are chicken bone broth and beef gelatin. Bone broth, yuck… is what you might be thinking but just remember that like the saying ‘beauty is pain’, sometimes to feel good, it might not taste good! Not everyone is a fan on bone broth but its benefits are worth a few big sips of the drink. Firstly, it’s awesome for gut health, great for the immune system, helps metabolism and detoxification. Just mix a bit of Himalayan salt and pepper in it and you’re good to go! Gelatin is actually found in a lot of foods, like jelly, and is a protein derived from collagen. It is found in parts of animals which provide necessary amino acids. It’s completely colourless and tasteless which is a huge bonus. Gelatin is perfect if you’re looking to restore and improve your gut health and digestion. It’s also great for your overall health, skin health and bones. When it comes to buying beef gelatin, I suggest selecting one that states it’s natural, grass fed and pasture raised cattle. You can just drink it with water or if you’re wanting to be a little bit more fun, make your own jelly!
Healthy Jelly Recipe:
1. Pour 2 cups of fresh or organic juice into a saucepan.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of gelatin and stir until dissolved.
3. Turn the heat on to medium and allow to simmer for approx. 10 minutes.
4. Turn heat off and sit for no longer than 2 minutes otherwise it will start to clump.
5. Stir the mixture and add your favourite type of sweetener if necessary. You can also add in pieces of fresh fruit like orange or pineapple for added texture.
6. Pour jelly into a container and place in fridge for at least 3 hours.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR | SAVANNAH MARSHALL
I am a self-proclaimed lover of food and healthy lifestyle choices. I have a strong belief that living a healthy lifestyle by choice is easier than it looks. I am reminded every day to be grateful for my health and to not take it for granted. That is why I have a passion for learning all things health/wellness related, and sharing that knowledge, with the hope it may benefit others.
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