Gut health has been a popular topic between health experts and people alike. More people than ever are interested in improving their digestion and optimising their gut health. But why is gut health important? And how do you identify signs of an unhealthy gut?
Keep reading to find out…
Why is gut health important?
Our gut host a large variety of bacteria (known as the gut microbiome), responsible for digestion metabolism and some regulation. Maintaining a healthy gut is very important because the bacteria is responsible for nutrient absorption, secretion and helps convert foods to energy.
If your gut is imbalanced, it can be difficult to stay healthy; this is because poor gut health is associated with a variety of symptoms including inflammation, illnesses and fatigue.
How do I know if my gut is healthy?
You have consistent energy
Energy is one of the most obvious factors that can give away gut health, this is because digestion requires lots of energy. If you are not experiencing any dips in energy, or do not need a caffeine pick-me-up, then it is a good sign that your gut is healthy!
By how often you poo
Keeping track of your bowel movements is a really easy way to identify if you may be experiencing gut health issues. Generally, if you visit the toilet frequently and regularly it is a sign of good gut health.
According to the NHS, a person can use the toilet between 3 times a day to 3 times a week. This can vary greatly depending on each person. It is important to monitor your own schedule and inform a GP or health professional if you are concerned.
You don’t have much bloating or gas
Although having gas is completely normal, people with gut health issues often experience a significantly uncomfortable amount of gas and bloating.
Signs of an unhealthy gut
You have trouble sleeping and are constantly tired
Poot gut health is commonly associated with sleep difficulties and fatigue. This is because an imbalance in gut microbiota can lead to fatigue. In fact, one study showed that almost half the people with fatigue also had IBS.
Curious to know more about IBS? Read our blog:
You have extreme mood swings
Recent research has revealed that gut microbiomes are also responsible for the synthesis of many hormones including serotonin (also known as the happy hormone). Researchers found that low levels of serotonin can lead to constipation and irregular bowel movements. So, if you are experiencing low mood and have sharp mood swings, it could be a sign of poor gut health.
Irregular bowel movements and persistent bloating
If you experience constipation, diarrhoea, bloating or irregular bowel movements; it could mean that your gut is having a hard time digesting food, due to lack of beneficial bacteria and could be a tell-tale sign of an unhealthy gut or a digestive problem.
How to improve gut health?
Nutrition is essential in maintaining a healthy gut and improving any gut issues. Lots of research has emerged about the benefits of nutrition and how food can have a huge impact on our gut health. Here’s a few tips on how to improve your gut health:
Eat a variety of meals:
A diet that is has a variety of nutrients can increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and lead to a more diverse microbiome. This can help improve digestion and ease gut health problems. A recent study by The American Gut Project found that people that ate over 30 different plants per week had significantly greater diversity of their gut microbiome.
Incorporating berries, crushed nuts and seeds in your food can also help improve gut health and increase nutrient diversity in your meals.
Get regular vitamin D
It is recommended that all people in the UK supplement with vitamin D between Oct – April, due to the lack of UVB sunlight. This type of sunlight is needed for our skin to produce vitamin D. However, research suggests vitamin D also plays an important role in gut health. Supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to improve diversity of the microbiome, which in turn leads to a healthier gut.
Reduce your stress levels
It’s no secret that stress can significantly impact your gut health and levels of bacteria in your gut. This is because stress can impact the level of growth of bacteria found in our gut and can impact our digestion. This is very common with people who have IBS, as they may find stress can trigger their IBS symptoms.
Increase your polyphenol intake
Polyphenols are a category of plant compounds, often used as fuel for microbiomes. Some of the most common foods that are high in polyphenols include: Dark chocolate, wine, nuts, seeds, cherries, strawberries, cocoa and soy products.
Incorporate more spices into your diet
Spices are an easy, cheap way to level up your food and kick up flavour. Recently, spices have also been linked to improving digestion and gut health. The compounds found in certain spices such as turmeric and cinnamon can help reduce inflammation and maintaining gut microbiota.
Foods that support gut health and digestion
Fermented foods are foods that have undergone fermentation, which is a process where sugars are broken down into alcohols by yeast or bacteria. They have been shown to increase the number of helpful bacteria in the digestive system. However, it is important to be mindful of other ingredients in fermented foods as some may be high in sugar, which can have a damaging effect on health.
To ensure you are getting the most benefits from fermented foods, make sure that live cultures of bacteria are included to support with digestion. Our new clear protein is the perfect addition to your gut friendly routine, in a unique lemon kombucha flavour, it includes 2g of Organic Black Tea Kombucha and 1.5 billion units of Ganeden B30- a gut-friendly bacteria, along with 15g of protein to ensure you’re hitting your protein goals.1