3 ways to boost your gut health
The gut is a complex environment that research has taken a recent focus on due to its critical role in whole-body health. We are what we digest - not just what we eat. And who does the digesting? Our gut bugs (or gut microbiome - bacteria, viruses, fungi, and sometimes parasites!).
Gut health is more than bloating, IBS and indigestion. In fact, research is showing that the health of your gut microbiome can affect many other systems in the body and be an indicator of our predispositions to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and depression.
Here are three ways you can support your gut microbiome:
1. Increase your microbiome diversity through diet
There are up to 500 different types of bacteria in your gut, along with viruses, fungi and sometimes parasites... Each of these bacterias plays a different role - from affecting our immune system, our nervous system to our digestion - they all have a part in the ecosystem of your gut.
Studies show that "lower bacterial diversity has been reproducibly observed in people with inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, type 1 diabetes, atopic eczema, coeliac disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and arterial stiffness, than in healthy controls." More diversity in what plants you consume means a more diverse microbiome.
How can you increase microbiome diversity?
- Increase the variety of fruits and vegetables you consume - mix things up on your next food shop.
- Consume probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, saurkraut, kefir.
- Increase soluble fibre such as oats, apples, beans, peas.
2. Address your stress
The gut-brain axis is a bidirectional communication system connected by the vagus nerve. That means your gut health affects your brain health, and your brain health can affect your gut health. Stress alters the microbiome and gut lining integrity. When we are stressed, our body also shuts down our digestive system for "fight, flight or flee" mode. Chronic stress can therefore affect your digestion and be the cause of digestive issues, weight gain and skin issues.
Making time to focus on destressing activities, whether that be exercise, mindfulness and meditation, a hobby, or time with friends and family is key in maintaining good gut function.
3. Reduce environmental toxin exposure
Environmental toxins are not only damaging to the earth, but also to your gut microbiome. They can cause inflammation in the body, wipe out good bacteria and affect your hormones. Sources can be from disinfectants and cleaning products, antibiotic use in medications as well as in livestock and fish farms, pesticide use and pollution.
You can start reducing your toxin exposure by:
- switching to nontoxic household cleaning products
- reducing plastic exposure
- washing your produce
- buying organic
- getting out in nature
- purifying your water
Consistency in incorporating the above is the key to maintaining a healthy microbiome that can support whole-body health and wellbeing.
If you are looking for extra support with gut health and nutrition, you can book in for a free discovery call with myself to see if nutritional therapy might be the answer.