How to improve your gut health

Are you feeling a little off balance? 

After a long, hot summer it's completely normal to feel a little off balance, sluggish and ready for a reset. There’s no question that our gut microbiome holds the key to our overall health, wellness and beauty, but with travel, a change in diet, increase in temperature and often an increase in alcohol intake, we can often neglect to nurture our gut health as it is somewhat out of sight, out of mind.

Signs that our gut microbiome is off balance include; bloating and digestive issues, disrupted sleep, low mood or energy, unbalanced hormones, reduced immunity, weight gain and skin breakouts. 

The good news is that while it might be easy to fall off balance, it's just as easy to regain equilibrium with just a few simple steps. 

Step 1: Reduce and reset

Even if you haven't been diagnosed with a gut health condition (such as leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), SIBO or gastritis), there are a few common food triggers that can disrupt your microbiome. These include; alcohol, sugar, spicy food, processed or fatty food and caffeine. When it comes to mealtimes, aim for whole foods, grains, high quality protein sources and plenty of fresh produce in place of these disruptors to reduce inflammation and allow your digestive system to reset.

GP Tip: Keep a food diary to keep note of particular foods that make you feel good and those that might be a trigger or that you might be sensitive to. 

Step 2: Focus on fibre

We frequently talk about the importance of fibre and for good reason! The small intestine is responsible for digesting and breaking down proteins, fats and most carbohydrates, but fibre is unique as it passes through the large intestine, feeding the good bacteria in your gut, forming short chain amino acids (butyrate), contributing to the reduction of inflammation in the body. Dietary fibre is found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, but another easy way to increase fibre is with our Feel Great Fibre.

GP Tip: Take a serving of Feel Great Fibre before each main meal (up to 3 times per day) to slow and aid digestion, balance blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings.

Step 3: Fermented foods

Fermented foods such as; kimchi, kefir and cultured yogurt provide the gut with a healthy dose of probiotic beneficial bacteria as well as prebiotic. Unlike over the counter probiotic supplements which often only contain a few species or strains, fermented foods are naturally rich in a variety of bacterial species and strains, helping to support intestinal barrier function, balancing blood sugar, reducing inflammation and improving digestion.

GP Tip: Kombucha is a great way to increase fermented foods within your diet while increasing hydration. Try diluted with sparkling water as an alternative to your afternoon coffee. 

Step 4: Routine habits

Our gut and brain are intimately connected, so reducing both internal and external stressors are key for optimal health and wellness. Studies have linked stress to a range of gut disorders including IBS, as it can directly impact the balance of healthy bacteria within the gut lining and microbiome. Healthy routine habits are key for reducing stress, taking time (even if it's just 10 minutes per day) for yourself is essential alongside maintaining a balanced, healthy diet. A gentle walk, scheduling a yoga or pilates class, practicing mindfulness and winding down properly for quality sleep are all great ways to reduce stress and feel good. 

GP Tip: When working from home it's easy to work through your lunch break. Use this time in your day to get out of the house for a short walk to get some fresh air and gentle exercise. 

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