There's no questioning that having good gut health is key to good overall health. It can be confusing to know where to start, so here are five simple ways that you can begin taking better care of your gut, right now!
1. Time for a clear out
The very first thing to get your gut health in tip-top shape is to give your system a break. This simply means it's time to temporarily remove any foods that give you gas, bloating or an upset stomach.
Imagine this - If you were to injure yourself playing a sport, chances are your Doctor would advise you to stop playing that sport for a period of time to allow your body the chance to heal. The same principle works for your gastrointestinal system. Bloating and discomfort are signs that something is not quite right. If your body is signalling for help, the best thing you can do initially is to take away the thing that is constantly injuring it.
For example, if dairy gives you an upset tum and makes you run to the bathroom, then you can swap it out for alternate mylks like almond, coconut, cashew or oat!
*TIP: If you’re sure that you get upset stomachs but you're not sure what foods ‘did you dirty’, then try tracking what you eat and how it makes you feel for three days and look for any patterns.
2. Eat from the ‘wholefoods rainbow’
Wholefoods are simply foods close to how you’d find them in nature, without being refined or processed. Eating a variety of the highest quality foods you can get your hands on gives you the broadest amount of nutrients that you’ll need to build and maintain a healthy gut.
Don’t stick with the same old, try and spice it up! Buddha bowls are a sure way to get as many wholefoods in one serving as you can! We’re talking broccoli, cabbage, pumpkin, kumera, spinach, kale, carrots, eggplant, brussel sprouts, parsnips, kale, quinoa, beetroot, black beans, boiled eggs, nuts and seeds!
3. Chew (slowly)
Slowly and mindfully chewing each mouthful lets your brain warn your stomach that food is about to ‘enter the chat’. This way, the stomach and intestines can release digestive enzymes to help break foods down into a usable form for your body to use. Alternatively, eating while you’re stressed, rushed or distracted disrupts this whole process and leads to poor gut health (not to mention you’ll miss out on nutrients!).
Get the most out of a meal and be sure to chew every mouthful 10 times, or until it turns to liquid. Make sure you're in a stress-free environment, your phone is away, and you're mindfully enjoying Every. Single. Bite. You'll also find that the same foods become 10x tastier!
4. Poop regularly
It’s plain and simple - we need to move our bowels every day, period. If we don’t, food sitting in the large intestine for too long starts to ferment and compact, leading to an unhealthy gut. Additionally, compounds that were meant to be flushed out get recirculated into the bloodstream which can cause all sorts of issues.
To pass easy and regular stools, make sure you drink 2.5+ litres of fluid per day and eat plenty of fibrous foods. Foods such as fruits (berries, apples, kiwifruit), vegetables (potatoes, beets, leafy greens), whole grains (bran, buckwheat, millet, quinoa), legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), nuts and seeds.
*TIP: Fibrous foods are also prebiotics. Prebiotics are what the millions of microbes in your gastrointestinal lining feed off of. Keep the good bugs healthy and eat your fruit, veggies and nuts... And seed cycle with Seed Cycle Blend!
On another note - It's important to give yourself time and a relaxed environment to ‘do the deed’. If you struggle to go regularly, schedule it into your calendar (no joke!) around the same time every day.
5. Move that bod
Your gut will love you for doing 30 minutes of movement every day. Any form of exercise is fine - you can walk, run, go to the gym, practice yoga, gently stretch or dance like you’re one of Beyonce's Single Ladies (highly recommend the latter).
Exercising helps your gut health in two ways:
Moving your body helps food shift around a stagnant system which is especially important if you work at a desk job or live a sedentary lifestyle. TIP: If you have gastrointestinal discomfort, gently massage your stomach in a clockwise direction in big circles around your belly button to manually maneuver food and help discomfort pass.
When you exercise, you release ‘feel good’ hormones like dopamine and serotonin throughout your body, which helps to reduce stress and allows for optimal bowel function to take place.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to good gut health. These steps are a great place to start. Give these a go and let us know how you feel!
I am a degree-qualified Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist and Herbalist. I love to help women truly understand and work with their bodies, from a holistic perspective.