Gut feelings

Steps to improve your gut health

You might not realise, but your gut and brain are constantly talking. Messages travel back and forth between them via the gut-brain connection. These messages can impact your overall health, including mood, mental wellbeing, and immune function.

The gut-brain connection is under the rule of the billions of bacteria living inside the gut, known as the gut microbiome. Diet, stress, pollution and medications can all affect your gut microbiome, by influencing the balance between good and bad bacteria.

The wall of the gut acts like a barrier, stopping bad bacteria and food molecules that are too big from crossing over into the blood stream. When the gut lining becomes damaged, bacteria and large food particles which would normally be contained within the wall, cross over, firing up the immune system, resulting in inflammation.

Follow these tips to boost your gut health and help manage symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

 

Add probiotics to your diet

Probiotics help boost ‘good’ gut microbes and reduce the growth of harmful ones. You’ll find probiotics in supplements or in foods such as live-cultured yoghurt (lactobacillus or acidophilus), kefir, miso soup and sauerkraut.

 

Stress less and sleep better

High stress levels and poor sleep can contribute to a sluggish gut. To help de-stress, try a Mindfulness app such as Headspace – a less anxious mind will result in a deeper slumber. Foods high in fibre may also help you sleep better.

 

Get moving

Turns out a bike ride or jog could reduce IBS symptoms as much as it does your waistline. Why? Aerobic activity soothes stress, makes the colon muscles work better and helps move gas through the gastrointestinal tract faster. That’s why when IBS patients in a Swedish study were advised to exercise between 20 and 30 minutes three to five times a week, their pain decreased significantly. Yet another reason to lace up those sneakers!

 

Try a food supplement to support your digestive system

Sodium butyrate, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA), is an important regulator of the intestinal environment and reduced sodium butyrate can be linked to gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS and IBD. A dietary food supplement such as Energast, which contains sodium butyrate, may be beneficial for your gut health. Ask you healthcare professional if Energast would be right for you.