Poor gut health affects us in many more ways than most people think. Gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea are among the most common symptoms, but our gut health also affects our concentration, skin health and the quality of our sleep. Our gut is the engine room of our bodies, driving our day to day health and wellbeing. Here we explain the benefits of improving your gut health and how your diet can relieve symptoms of poor gut health.
Why improve gut health?
1. Reduce gas and bloating
Gas and bloating affects more than 4 in 10 people, but don't worry, you can relieve gas and bloating by choosing the right foods, and avoiding the wrong ones! If you do suffer bloating, discover the surprising reasons you might be bloated.
Choose low FODMAP foods
FODMAP foods are short-chain carbohydrates and sugars that are poorly digested by your body. Great low FODMAP foods include carrots, green beans, bean sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, turnips, orange, grapes, bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, soya, rice, oats, quinoa and corn.
When eating, chew each mouthful approximately 30 times (depending on the food). This will stimulate the production of digestive juices. Calcium and Zinc are essential for stomach acid and digestive enzymes so vegan supplements should be considered for those on plant-based diets.
Some foods with anti-fungal properties can be helpful when introduced slowly, including garlic, ginger, coconut oil, apple cider and cloves. Discover how to include these in your diet in our fabulous recipes. Remember also to eat regularly and avoid sugar spikes.
Avoid refined carbohydrates
Too many refined carbohydrates can lead to higher levels of candida yeast in the gut, which can cause gas and bloating. Candida yeast can also rise after taking antibiotics, at times of stress, and with high sugar diets. Your immune system needs support in dealing with candida so reach for foods high in Zinc and Vitamin C to help deal with candida.
Small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO)
SIBO is another cause of bloating and is an excess of the wrong type of bacteria, or bacteria in the wrong part of the gut. Too much bad bacteria increases fermentation, causing gas. A low FODMAP diet is also beneficial for individuals with SIBO. One of the causes of SIBO is a low level of stomach acid which needs to be corrected, so chewing food well before swallowing will help stimulate greater acid production to digest your food. Learn more in our blog 'Surprising reasons you might be bloated'.
2. Relieve constipation
Kiwi fruit is excellent for easing constipation. The fibres in kiwis promote the growth of probiotics. Probiotic supplements help balance probiotics in the gut and also promote regular bowel movements. Learn more in our article 'What are probiotics'.
Exercise also helps with the movement of faecal matter so get at least 30 minutes exercise daily if you suffer constipation.
3. Avoid Diarrhoea
Loose stools or diarrhoea is one of the common signs of poor gut health.
Stick to plain, easily digested foods such as steamed vegetables and rice while you focus on improving the bacteria in your gut and identifying trigger foods.
Natural (plant based) yoghurt contains probiotics which help with digestion and fending off diarrhoea. Probiotic supplements also help with the digestion of food and the correction of the microbiome within the bowl. Studies show probiotic supplementation can help with many kinds of diarrhoea.
4. Improve your concentration
70% of the chemicals in your brain originate from the gut. They are created from amino acids and transported into the brain, and disruptions to probiotic numbers will decrease these chemicals, and in turn affect your ability to concentrate. You might enjoy our research 'Why do 50% of us struggle to concentrate'.
Consuming protein and complex carbohydrates at every meal will provide the amino acids needed for the production of brain chemicals, and the carbohydrates will help transport them to the brain. A range of protein should be consumed each day such as nuts, seed, quinoa, beans, lentils and protein shakes. Protein is found in every single cell in your body.
Exercising is also important - it increases blood flow which takes these nutrients to the brain, improving concentration.
B Vitamins are beneficial to promote the conversion of amino acids into brain chemicals. If you're on a plant-based diet, some B Vitamins can be difficult to gain in your diet so consider B Vitamin complex supplements if you're on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Learn more in our blog 'Mistakes to avoid on a plant-based diet'.
5. Better skin
Frequent bowel movements help your body rid itself of toxins, and if this does not occur, toxins become reabsorbed via the gut, and the body pushes them out through the skin which can cause inflammation, redness and acne.
Skin Saviour™ is an advanced formula of 11 clinically studied gut-friendly bacteria, botanicals and nutrients for healthier ageing and a clearer, glowing skin complexion.
Increasing dietary fibre provides bulk to help remove toxins from the body, and helps to feed probiotics which promote healthy and frequent bowel movements. Learn more from our nutritionists on the best foods and vitamins for glowing skin.
Fibre rich foods such as fruits and vegetables contain a high proportion of water, helping to keep faecal matter soft. Aim for 7-9 portions of fruits and vegetables daily, and stay hydrated to maintain efficient elimination.
Exercise increases blood flow to the liver which promotes efficient detoxification and improves skin health. Sweating also helps clear pores and toxins from the skin - be sure sure you shower the sweat away!
Omega 3 supplements are also beneficial for your gut and skin health for a few reasons. Omega 3 decreases inflammation in the intestines and helps probiotics colonise, in turn supporting bowel movements and detoxification. Omega 3 fatty acids also support the elasticity of your skin, and it's important to be aware Omega 3 is generally lower on a plant-based diet so a vegan Omega 3 supplement is often recommended. You might enjoy our article '7 health benefits of a plant-based diet'.
6. Better sleep
Good sleep requires the hormone 'melatonin' which initiates the onset of sleep. Melatonin is converted from another hormone called 'serotonin' (your happy hormone). Serotonin is produced in the gut and requires the amino acid l-tryptophan and probiotics for its creation. So a healthy gut, and healthy probiotics in your gut, can improve your sleep.
Fermented foods including sauerkraut, kombucha and soya / coconut yoghurt contain probiotics and can help to repopulate the gut. Fibre rich foods serve as a food source for probiotics and help them thrive. Consume fibre from fruits and vegetables and wholegrains. Set a night-time routine and stick to it. Learn more from our nutritionists in 'How your diet can help your sleep'.
Switch off all electricals 30 minutes before bed and dim the lights. This will help to stimulate your natural melatonin production. Magnesium is also needed for hydration, proper gut function and the creation of melatonin. Some people find that taking a magnesium supplement before bed helps with the onset and quality of sleep.
Discover our range of vegan probiotics, vitamins and supplements.
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