Antibiotics may have a negative effect on the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestines. Not only do they ‘kill’ the overgrown and ‘bad’ bacteria, but they also harm the beneficial gut microbes.
Bifidobacteria are bacteria found in your intestines. They are important in humans as they digest fibre and other complex carbohydrates that your body can’t digest on its own. Through the digestion of fibre, they produce chemicals called short-chain fatty acids which are play a number of important roles in gut health. They are often used as probotics.
Whilst most adults can tolerate up to 400mg a day of caffeine without side-effects, some people are much more sensitive. Gut symptoms can be one of the side-effects.
What you eat isn’t just nutrition for you, it also feeds the bacteria that live in your gut. Making better food choices involves eating a balanced diet rich in plant-based foods – a healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods. Eat more fibre – fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains feed your healthy bacteria.
Healthy bacteria in the gut help create some their own B-vits which have specific roles in energy production. Healthy bacteria also communicate with other cells in the body to help regulate blood sugar. What’s more, healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome also help create and regulate neurotransmitters, the chemicals in the brain and the body responsible for happiness, motivation, and sleep – all the things directly tied to feeling energised.
Potential benefits of traditional fermented foods include:
- Contain live microbes which are linked with health benefits
- Improve texture, taste and digestibility
- Contain compounds such as organic acids which may support the immune system and help to improve control of blood sugar.
- May reduce or remove toxins and anti-nutrients
- May increase concentrations of B-vitamins
Have you ever had butterflies in your tummy or had a gut feeling? These sensations suggest that your brain and gut are connected. Recent studies show that your brain affects your gut health and your gut may even affect your brain health
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is an easy way to promote a healthy gut.
A large proportion of your immune system is in your GI tract. The gut bacteria are known to play a crucial role in keeping us healthy. They suggest that the interactions between the gut and the bacteria that colonise our intestines help control how our body responds to illness.
Fast food is generally high in fat and low in fibre which can throw off your gut microbiome balance. This may reduce the growth of good bacteria that produce fatty acids, know to play a role in reducing inflammation.
The scientific evidence behind the effectiveness of kefir is limited. However, there are potential benefits including There is limited clinical evidence for the effectiveness of kefir and the most popular non-dairy fermented foods. However, traditional kefir is the fermented food with most human evidence for gastrointestinal conditions, including lactose malabsorption and as an adjunct therapy during treatment for H. pylori infection.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo- di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. They are naturally present in some foods and are also added to other foods to help flavour, texture and appearance. Some people are sensitive to FODMAPs as they are not completely absorbed by the body and this can cause symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. A low FODMAP diet may improve digestive symptoms in people with IBS. Seek advice from a healthcare professional before trying a low FODMAP diet!
If you create a diet that is varied and keeps you gut microbes happy, you should start to see benefits in all areas of your life – reducing gut symptoms, increasing your immunity, general feeling of wellbeing and more!
Nicotine can decrease or alter the diversity of your gut microbiome which may contribute to the development of intestinal issues.
Spend more time outside! People living in rural areas have better microbes that city-dwellers. Dust off your trowel: gardening and other outdoor activities are good for your microbiome.
Studies indicate that peppermint relaxes your digestive system and may relieve symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion. It also prevents smooth muscles from contracting, which could relieve spasms in your gut.
Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contains all essential amino acids. It is also high in fibre, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and antioxidants. Great for feeding your good bacteria!
Don’t forget our brain has a big impact on our gut and vice versa. Research shows that non-diet approaches including relaxation techniques have been shown to improve gut systems. Take some time out!
In some people, stress can contribute to gut health – it can slow down digestion causing bloating, pain and constipation, while in others it speeds it up, causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo! Think about stress busting strategies – meditation, exercise, relaxation, yoga, massage.
Make time for yourself!
We all have busy lives and lots of responsibilities. Too often, taking of yourself becomes a low priority. Learn to rearrange your life without guilt so that taking care of your health and your body moves to the top of the list.
Understand what triggers your symptoms. Why not complete a 7-day diary recording what you eat/drink, the symptoms you experience and any other events/activities (exercise, mood, sleep etc).
What you eat isn’t just nutrition for you, it also feeds the bacteria that live in your gut. Every person is different but if you want to improve and maintain your gut health, eat a wide range of plant-based foods – a healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods.
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of your intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in your gut – get hydrating, a simple way to promote a healthy gut!
eXercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbes and enrich microflora diversity in the gut, improving overall gut health according to new research. eXercise promotes motility and movement of the gut.
Yoga has been shown to have beneficial effects in improving IBS symptoms. Don’t forget our brain has a bit impact on our gut! Get breathing!
Get your Zen on to balance your gut. Meditation and mindfulness can help to reduce stress and inflammation which is beneficial to gut health.