Gut health and digestion is where it’s all at! If your digestion is compromised then you are not going to get all the benefits from your diet and you’re not going to feel your best! The gut is often called the gateway to health and honestly, how well your digestive system works, the health of your gut, and the health of your intestines is critical to your overall health. Having low stomach acid levels for example can mean you are not breaking down valuable carbohydrates and proteins, therefore you are not absorbing the essential nutrients such as Vit B12 and calcium (Just two of them! There are many more!) The implications of not absorbing vitamin B12 and calcium are massive and really will undermine your attempts to feel good and live your best life, as well as lead to more chronic serious conditions in the future.
Looking a bit lower down in the small intestine…if you’re not absorbing fatty acids from your diet again you really will notice it and feel rubbish!!! You need these fatty acids for hundreds of functions in your body including hormone health, brain health, immunity, metabolism….I could go on!
Looking at the rest of your gut, if this isn’t working properly or is inflamed and damaged, sooner or later you really will know! It will not make you feel good and effects nearly every area of your body! An inflamed gut means an inflamed body. Gut health is associated with poor mental health, depression, anxiety, leaky gut, where the gut lining is compromised, may result in poor immune tolerance (increased risk of allergies) as well as auto immune diseases where the body attacks its own tissues such as in rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimotos (Hypothyroidism). Conditions such as autism, attention deficit disorder, asthma, allergies & sensitivities, poor memory, foggy head, skin problems such as eczema are all influenced by the gut and little microbes that live on the gut surface. It may also influence weight, have a part to play in the development of diabetes and heart disease.
So I think you probably get what I’m saying! If you have any gut issues, IBS, bloating, constipation, if you are stressed ( Stress reduces digestive ability), heart burn or anything digestive related, or not, the first place to look to improve your health would be here!! The best place to start would be to see a nutritional therapist who will really get to grips with your digestion and get it working optimally so you can benefit from all of those nutrients, correct any deficiencies and heal any damage.
Correcting a compromised digestion really will give you a step up in the energy stakes, reduce fatigue and boost your health. Here is a few steps that may help;
1 – Reduce inflammatory foods such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol. If your digestion is really bad and you think you’re suffering from intolerances or are particularly sensitive to certain foods eliminating them from your diet for 3 weeks would be a good start and then introduce them slowly one at a time and note any effects. Foods that tend to be the worst offenders are gluten, wheat, dairy and soy but there are plenty of others.
2- If you have been abroad in the last year and suffered food poisoning or a bout of diarrhoea and vomiting you might want to get tested for parasites.
3- Work on your stress!! Chronic stress reduces stomach acid and slows digestion. Taking apple cider vinegar before a meal in a small amount of water can help with digestion in this case, as well as eating pineapple or bitter leaves dressed in lemon juice. Make sure you sit down to eat your meals in a relaxed environment and chew your food properly. Some say eat your soup and drink your food! Digestion starts in the mouth so give it a helping hand by making sure food is properly broken down before you swallow it!
4 - Look after the little microbes in your gut! You need them happy and functioning properly. You may need to take a probiotic, healthy bacteria strains, to replace the healthy bacteria in your intestine. You can also eat foods such as live yoghurt, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and miso, asparagus, bananas, onions and garlic to help feed these little bugs.
5 – Eat plenty of fibre, both insoluble and soluble. Fibre is fermented by the microbes and produces lots of important substances for a healthy intestinal wall. It will also help constipation, blood glucose levels and cholesterol. Fibre is in fruit, veggies, oats, pulses (beans, lentils & chickpeas) and wholegrains.
6 – Eating foods that soothe the gut lining will help towards reducing inflammation and heal if necessary. Eat plenty of healthy fats and omega 3s, so oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts. Lots of colourful fruits and veggies for a good dose of anti-oxidants, plenty of protein, and soothing soups and broths.
7- Drink herbal teas such as camomile or peppermint which help soothe the smooth muscle tissue of the gut and have a calming effect.
Hope this helps! Please like and share and get in touch if you have any questions at all! xx