The day-to-day of modern life has the potential to cause havoc on the already complicated world that is your gut microbiome! Antibiotics kill off both the good bacteria in your gut as well as bad, unhealthy diets encourage unwanted bacterial proliferation and increased stress is linked to the increase in the stress hormones; adrenaline and cortisol, contributing to an acidic environment in our bodies, preventing a healthy bacterial balance. All of the aforementioned can lead to conditions in the gut, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which I myself have suffered from for over 3 years.
Having read further into the science, there is also evidence to suggest that mental disorders such as anxiety and depression are also linked to gut health. From my experience, it appears more and more likely that a large percentage of modern day diseases and inflammations stem from an imbalance in your ‘second brain’… the gut!
It is clear to me, that we need to prioritise looking after our own little world down there, so it can look after us! There are a lot of things you can do to improve your gut health, I thought I would share some of my top tips for a healthy gut:
Body acidity - Increased stress, too much alcohol and too many takeaways can increase your bodies acidity levels, which can lead to inflammation and disease. Try and eat more alkaline foods to neutralise this acidity and keep your body in homeostasis. Green veggies like spinach, kale, broccoli are great! Also try to add things like quinoa, nuts, avocado, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber, coconut, lentils, ginger, garlic, flaxseeds and sweet potatoes to your diet as they all have a higher alkaline pH. Another top tip is to add a slice of lemon to your glass of water. A way that you can test your own pH is to buy pH tester strips. They’re relatively cheap and easy to use!
Diet - This plays a huge factor in your gut health! Try to avoid foods high in refined sugars as they tend to feed the unwanted bacteria within your gut. For a sweet treat, try super-foods such as blueberries and blackberries and if you want something sweet in your tea, try adding agave nectar opposed to sugar. Dark chocolate is great , however look for 70% and over! My advice, is stay away from artificial sweeteners as they are chemical and unnatural and also bread as the yeast can feed unwanted bacteria.
Smoothies are a great way to start your day. They are easy to make and packed with nutrients! Here is a recipe I use most mornings:
Half frozen banana
Handful frozen Blueberries/blackberries
Oat milk 1/2 cup
Flaxseed Powder tbsp
Naturya supergreen powder tbsp
Oats and/or chia seeds 2 tbsp
If needed, sweeten with agave syrup
Optional- tsp of peanut butter
Prebiotic foods - These foods help to feed the good bacteria in your gut, which help contribute to a healthy digestive system! Add foods like asparagus, garlic, onion, artichoke, leeks and banana to meals. The more diverse the variety of vegetables in your diet, the higher the numbers of good bacteria in your gut. Aim to eat at least 10+ portions of various fruit and veg a day.
Bone broth - This is amazing for digestion and contains loads of good minerals! You can even make your own if you know a good, local, organic butchers. Just ask for their unwanted bones and boil them up. If you don’t quite fancy that, find yourself a good quality organic broth, which are available at most whole foods retailers.
Anti-inflammatory- Turmeric and ginger have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Add them to meals and drinks where you can.
Build up your microbiome - Look to introduce friendly bacteria to your gut. Probiotics have huge benefits when introduced to your daily routine. I use the probiotic brand; Symprove. Symprove comes in liquid form and is easy to take. It is also proven to survive the harsh, acidic environment of your stomach and reach the gut alive and effective. I take it every morning, 10 mins before I eat or drink anything. Look to also introduce probiotic foods like Kefir and Sauerkraut. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own. It’s really easy and will contain even more bacteria than shop bought kefir and/or sauerkraut (over 30 different strains!) If you do buy it, make sure it is unpasteurised so the bacteria haven’t been killed off and try to have two fork fulls with a single meal for one week. You can then look to increase to two forks full with every meal. Just be aware that you may feel bloated at first, as new bacteria are introduced into your gut. However, this does tend to ease off after a couple weeks.
Supplements - I take Fish Oil, vitamin D, vitamin B, vitamin C, Magnesium and Zinc. However, you don’t need to take all of these though! Find the right supplements for you and make sure they are really good quality. If not they probably wont do anything and could potentially make you worse.
Emotional support -Stress, in my opinion, has to be the worst thing for your body. When you experience increased levels of stress and anxiety, you have increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. Over time, repeated increases in these stress hormones can lead to inflammation and disease. When we are stressed our breath tends to get more shallow, we don’t inhale enough oxygen and we don’t exhale enough carbon dioxide. Our body is in a constant state of fight or flight mode. When we are in that state our body shuts everything else down. Our digestion slows, we become forgetful and foggy and our immune system is compromised. As a result, we are susceptible to infection and inflammation.
Try to practise diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing) every night for 5-10 minutes. Just lie in bed and breath deeply. Fill up the lungs and expand your diaphragm completely, then let all the air out slowly.
Try walking, yoga, reading, listening to music and anything you find relaxing. The deeper and slower you breathe, the more you will convince your body you are in a relaxed state and reduce your stress hormones.
Liver support- The chemical processing factory! A healthy liver is more efficient at processing the chemicals in your body. Milk thistle is a good supplement to help boost your liver, especially after drinking alcohol. When healing your gut, try to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or if you can, stop altogether.
Hydration really is key- Drink at least 2-3 litres a day to flush out toxins and help aid digestion. Water carries nutrients and blood to all our organs and glands, including the skin. Every organ needs water, with the colon needing the most. It is important to keep your gut hydrated.