20 Nov Gut health – What to know and do!
The digestive system is the process of digesting all foods in the mouth until they pass through the body. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is an organ which takes in food, digests it to absorb the nutrients and energy, and expels the remaining waste as faeces.
When cell walls in the GI tract and gut become damaged through an unhealthy lifestyle (see factors below) they can leak harmful foods and substances into the body. When this happens and they get into your bloodstream your body recognises them as foreign invaders, and the body’s immune system kicks in to counteract these invaders and can lead to any number of these symptoms below.
If you suffer from any of these on a regular basis then you have to look at your diet/lifestyle and general wellbeing.
5.Stubborn body fat/weight
8.Lack of energy / constantly tired and fatigued
11. Autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to name just a few)
12. Skin problems (acne, eczema etc)
General causes that can contribute to a poor gut:
1.Processed refined foods
4.A course of antibiotics
6.Over training/lack of recovery
7.Lack of sleep
8.Too much gluten/wheat/dairy or any other foods that may leave you with any of the above symptoms on a regular basis.
How to improve your gut and overall health:
· Eat more fruit / veg / legumes / beans
· Fermented foods like yogurt/kefir/sauerkraut
· Reduce or cut out refined sugars or any toxic foods that leave you with symptoms from above
· Try and only take medications when absolutely necessary
· Try and figure out any food intolerances you may have. Eg if a certain food leaves you with any symptoms from the above then remove that food from your diet for a period of time and see how it affects your body
· Take in some pre or probiotic foods, for example prebiotic – garlic/leeks or onions probiotics yoghurt/kefir/ sauerkraut
· Focus on good quality sleep
· Focus on recovery from exercise
· Supplement with the following; fish oils – zinc – digestive enzymes.
Pre and probiotic foods
Prebiotics; think of these as acting as a fertiliser for the already good bacteria in your stomach, whereas probiotics are a form of live bacteria that you are introducing into the gut to increase the amount of good bacteria.
Fish oils and zinc – both can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Digestive enzymes – our body absorbs nutrients from the food we eat and when we are suffering with any of the above symptoms, our ability to digest and break down foods into nutrients for our body diminishes. Supplementing with a digestive enzyme can help resolve this scenario.
However, as I have said before, supplements are exactly that – they help supplement an already healthy, balanced lifestyle. So you need to concentrate on the big issue of living a healthy, balanced lifestyle first and then consider supplementation.
Take home notes
Generally living a healthier lifestyle is going to offset the risk of having any major gut health issues, but you want to make sure so…
1. If you are already living a healthy, well balanced lifestyle with good nutrition and training, then you are just there already. However, I would recommend adding in some sort of prebiotic foods on a regular basis or even going to get an intolerance test done just to make sure you are maximising your potential and absorbing all the healthy foods you are taking into your body.
2. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle and eating a diet full of poor nutritional choices, then you need to start with getting active and focusing on some of the basic measures from above and incorporating them on a regular basis. Once you have done that you can start to look at seeing how certain foods affect your body differently and applying some of the points made above for the already healthy individual.
REMEMBER all of the above needs to be done on a consistent basis and in a sustainable manner.