Gut health is being sensationalised everywhere right now with people promoting all sorts of radicalised concepts to improve the health of your gut, including drinking 600mL each day of celery juice. Want to know a dietitians' secrets to a healthy gut?
1. EAT A VARIETY OF WHOLE FOODS
Whole foods are high in vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and of course, fibre; insoluble, soluble and resistant starch.
Insoluble fibre: found in skin of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, grainy breads and cereals and wheat germ, bulks out the contents of our large intestine and increases how quickly everything moves through. It is commonly referred to as the 'roughage' because it sweeps everything along and cleans our large intestine.
Soluble fibre: found in the fleshy part of fruit and vegetables, oats, barley, oat bran, nuts and seeds. Absorbs waters and forms a gel. This slows down how quickly everything moves through our gut, therefore slowing the breakdown of carbs and reducing sugar spikes. It helps to manage our blood sugar levels and reduces absorption and reabsorption of cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease.
Resistant starch: found in cooked and cooled potatoes, pasta and rice, green bananas and some commercial products (Barley+ have a fantastic product range which is high in all 3 types of fibre). This is the starch that resists digestion in the small into the large intestine and is fermented by the microbes in our large intestine, acting as their fuel source.
2. DRINK MORE WATER
One of the functions of our large intestine is to absorb water, if we aren't replacing the water that is being absorbed, it is going to be harder for everything to move along which may cause cramps and pain, plus we will be slightly dehydrated. If you're feeling tired, have a glass of cold water and see if you feel refreshed and more energised.
3. MOVE MORE
Our gut is a long muscular tube starting from the top to the bottom. A small randomised trial found doing yoga twice a week for 12 weeks was just as effective as treating IBS symptoms as the low FODMAP diet (this was a small study and further research needs to be done in this area). How about going for a nice walk after a meal? Personally, I find it helps with my digestion, plus its nice to get outside, breathe fresh air and catch up on how each others day was,-way better than sitting, watching Netflix.
4. AVOID UNNECESSARY MEDICATIONS AND ANTIBIOTICS
Some medications can cause an upset tummy and alter bowel movements. Antibiotics remove the GOOD AND BAD bacteria. Recent research found if you have been on antibiotics, it may be beneficial to take a probiotic once you have finished your course of antibiotics. In Australia we are being prescribed on average more than other countries, suggesting over prescribing. Be proactive with your GP, ask how long you need to take your course of antibiotics and if you really need to take them.
5. WEAR LOOSER CLOTHING
Let's be honest, you know the feeling when you get home and take off your skinny jeans or those spanks?! Wearing tight, constrictive clothing all the time compresses and puts unnecessary pressure on our gut. Making it difficult to function properly.
I'm fascinated by the gut (self-confessed geek!) and all the nitty gritty intricacies of it. If you found this information helpful or know someone that would, please forward, share or comment below.
Thank you for taking the time to read this,
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