‘I will have a kombucha with a side of sauerkraut, topped with a good probiotic thanks!’
You may have heard some health buzz words popping up all over cafes and restaurants lately and I am here to tell you why…
Gut Health! It seems to be on everyones mind at the moment.But why is it so important? And what are the signs of good gut health vs bad?
Rachel Bonello, Naturopathic Practitioner gives us some insight and an education on gut health.
Hippocrates stated over 2000 years ago that “all disease begins in the gut” these words are so true! We are only just beginning to scratch the surface in this area of research with regards to the complexity of our gut microbiome and just how critical is is to our overall health and wellbeing. Amazingly the human gut alone contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body, so essentially we are more bacteria than we are human!
When looking for signs of a healthy functioning gut…of course we look at the digestive system itself and making sure that it is in balance but in addition to this we can look at things like the skin, the immune system, the nervous system, our energy levels…if these are all in balance and ticking along nicely..fantastic!
Sadly, with our modern lifestyle it is more common to see gut imbalances, or dysbiosis and this can be due to so many different reasons…starting even before we were conceived…”what was our mother’s health like, before, during and after pregnancy?” “were we born naturally or via caesarean?” “have we taken multiple courses of antibiotics throughout our lifetime?” Plus a multitude of other factors to consider when looking at an individuals current gut health status.
Other modern lifestyle factors that can affect our gut health are: oral contraceptive pill, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed foods and low in fermentable fibre, exposure to environmental and dietary toxins, chronic stress and chronic infections to name a few (and who of us can say we haven’t been exposed to any or all of these things!)
Some typical signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal dysfunction or dysbiosis may be: abdominal bloating and/or cramping, excessive burping and/or flatulence, reflux, heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, undigested food in stool or having to restrict a variety of foods for fear of adverse reactions.
In addition to these common digestive symptoms, its important to remember that not everyone will have these symptoms, gut issues for some, may be asymptomatic when it comes to obvious gut symptoms, however, skin problems, autoimmunity, mental illness, headaches, depression and anxiety can all be signs of underlying gastrointestinal dis-ease and so it would be important to investigate these further. In clinic, I find most people respond well to a little extra support for a short amount of time with healing herbs and nutrients whilst they are making the appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes.
The great news is we have so many tools and functional pathology tests available to help uncover imbalances, heal the gut and maintain great gut health! The beautiful thing about great gut health is that it will have a beneficial flow on effect to our overall health, wellbeing and vitality!
Ways to start improving your gut health
1. Eat more vegetables and high fibre meals
Eating more veggies and healthy fats help with gut health. And having plenty of fibre in your diet helps our body’s systems run more effectively.
2. Eat plenty of prebiotic-rich foods or take a daily probiotic.
Include foods which naturally contain probiotics, such as yoghurt and fermented foods ( miso, sauerkraut, kimchi). Or ask your doctor or natropath to advise of a good probiotic to add to your daily diet.
3. Drink wisely
As alcohol can negatively affect gut health, reduce your overall intake of alcohol and remember to drink more water.
4. Reduce junk food intake
Unfortunately, your gut doesn’t like processed, fatty, sugary foods. Reduce your intake of junk foods like soft drink, lollies, biscuits, chips and pizza, and make healthier choices instead.