There is not a single, standardised way to determine whether a person’s gut is in a healthy balance. An unhappy gut will display an arrange of different symptoms depending on the individual. There are more obvious physical symptoms such as stomach cramps and toilet troubles. However, it is important to be aware that a lot of the symptoms of an unhealthy gut may not be as noticeable as you once presumed.
Symptoms of ill gut health:
- Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhoea and stomach pain
- Weight gain, unusual food cravings – in particular sugary foods
- Frequent illness or autoimmune diseases
- Low energy levels, needing to sleep throughout the day
- Mood swings, low mood, depression, anxiety and poor concentration levels
Diet is one of the biggest factors that will have an impact on your gut balance. The microbes within your gut rely on the foods that you eat to keep them alive. Anything that you ingest will either help to feed the good microbes or the bad microbes within your gut. Lifestyle is another massive factor that impacts your gut health. Which includes exercise levels, stress, sleep and genetics. Below are some top tips on how to improve your gut balance.
- Eat a range of whole foods & up your fibre:
Different whole foods provide fuel to different types of microbes within your gut. Variety matters aim for 30 different plant foods weekly. These include wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, pulses, seeds! Check out weekly checklist. DRV of fibre is 30g per day – current in the UK the average daily intake is a staggeringly low 16g. More link to benefits of fibre (note: important to up water intake to avoid constipation) POTENTIAL LINK TO RECIPE?
- Starve the bad bacteria by reducing processed foods:
Anything processed or falls under convenience food will disrupt your gut balance by reducing the levels of good bacteria and increasing the levels of bad bacteria. Processed foods are usually high in sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners, additives, thickeners – which cause havoc for your digestive system. If in doubt, check the labels.
- Eat mindfully and regularly:
A great way to help promote a healthy digestion is to have smaller, regular meals. Aim for 4-5 smaller meals per day, spread out at regular times are far less taxing for the digestive system, helping to boost your energy levels. Taking the time to mindfully chew, digest and absorb each bite as best as you can.
- Reduce stress:
Take 3 deep breaths to help calm the nervous system before eating. This allows your body to transition to a relaxed state meaning you are better equipped to digest and absorb the nutrients from your food.
- Add in fermented foods:
Kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, natto, probiotic yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, pickles are just a few examples! Fermented foods are high in probiotic bacteria, by consuming these products you are adding more beneficial bacteria into your gut which will help the balance of microbes.
For more information on prebiotic and probiotic bacteria click here.
- Quigley, E. (2013). Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 9(9), 560. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983973/
- Common digestive problems and how to treat them. (2018). Retrieved 10 March 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/common-digestive-problems-and-how-to-treat-them/?tabname=digestive-health
- to, H. (2021). The health benefits of fermenting. Retrieved 12 March 2021, from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting#:~:text=Nutritional%20Highlights,and%20enhancing%20the%20immune%20system.