World Digestive Health Day is today - How are you treating your gut?
Gut health is a hot topic in the world of nutrition and no less on World Digestive Health Day. Whether it's killer heartburn, stomach cramps, gas, bloating, constipation, nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting, gastrointestinal woes can cause havoc on your day-to-day life. It's important to keep your gut — and the billions of living bacteria inside them — happy.
In order to do this you need to create the right conditions and that’s where our experts can help…
High fibre diet
Having a high fibre diet is crucial for our digestive health. “It supports regular bowel movements, normal blood sugar levels and facilitates weight management. There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre aids in slowing down the emptying process in our stomachs, which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, as well as delivering ‘slow release’ carbs and sugars, so that our blood sugar levels are more likely to be under control. Soluble fibre also creates the perfect environment for friendly bacteria to thrive and maintain the correct balance versus pathogens and opportunistic microorganisms. Insoluble fibre absorbs water to help soften the stools, supporting regular bowel movement, and acts as a brush in our digestive tract facilitating the removal of toxic material. Edamame Beans are great to snack on or to add to dishes. They are high in fibre to help make you feel full and help prevent overeating and snacking. They’re also high in protein, which will also help keep you fuller for longer, explains Nutritionist at Natures Plus (naturesplus.co.uk), Martina Della Vedova.
Top Tip: The healthy Asian-inspired food chain itsu (www.itsu.com) have a wide variety of healthy, beautiful foods, many of which are packed full of the delicious, high in fibre, Edamame Beans- like the No Meat Mondays (£7.99, available nationwide). Dishes are also made fresh on site every day from ingredients that are locally and ethically sourced.
“It’s all too common for the average person to be seated 8 hours a day at their desk jobs - this can be detrimental to digestion and gut health. Exercise aids with peristalsis within the gut, which stimulates movement of food and gas through the digestive system, which can help to prevent stomach cramps and pain,” explains Lily Soutter, leading London nutritionist (www.lilysoutternutrition.com).
“As well as their immediate effects on digestion, the good bacteria in our gut are actually necessary to fully break down and absorb the nutrients in our foods. Lactobacilli bacteria, for example, help to break down substances such as tannins and phytates that are found in our foods and that bind to minerals, preventing their absorption. The beneficial bacteria are also thought to improve mineral absorption by lowering the pH in the colon. They also help to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose in milk and makes it easier to digest. And in addition, our good bacteria actually synthesise vitamins that we then absorb, including some B vitamins and vitamin K,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
Top Tip: The Natures Plus GI Natural capsules (£23.75, www.revital.co.uk) contain probiotics as well as digestive enzymes, prebiotics and whole foods to support your gut health. “This formula works very efficiently when taken before bed with half a glass of warm water: when your digestion is at rest and you are having a temporary fasting, then the ingredients in GI Natural powder work their magic,” advises Martina.
The gut-brain link
“Scientists call the gut the ‘second brain’ because it is filled with neurotransmitters we usually associate with being in the brain. It has its own complex nervous system and also, just like your brain, produces serotonin, the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. Our brain and gut are therefore intimately connected and that’s why they can affect each other so much. Anxiety gives most people butterflies in the stomach, and for those with IBS anxiety can trigger the onset of symptoms like constipation, cramps or diarrhoea. I recommend eating little and often so that your moods are not being affected by a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows,” explains the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Dieting, Dr Marilyn Glenville (www.glenvillenutrition.com)
Calm down and slow down
“If you eat on the run your body is feeling stressed because you are rushing. The stress response was designed to enable you to either run or fight for your life, during which time digestion of food was unlikely, the natural flow of energy is diverted away from your digestive system to your extremities to give you the energy to run or fight. Your body literally shuts down your digestive function and food stagnates and ferments, making you feel bloated and often giving you gas,” explains Marilyn.
Good quality sleep
“There is evidence of the relationship between good gut health, microbiome and good quality sleep. Studies show that the microbiome is in constant communication with all systems of the body, including all sleep related physiological functions like circadian rhythms, sleep wake cycle and sleep regulating hormones. The microbes of the microbiome are constantly regenerating and dying to maintain a healthy internal ecosystem. This microbiome rhythm and circadian, sleep wake rhythms appear to work side by side and if there is an imbalance our sleep (and gut health) is affected,” explains Nutritionist Alix Woods.
Top Tip: “CBD oil improves sleep quality and stops the overthinking that may occur in the early hours of the morning. Insomniacs find it helpful and as a natural analgesic or pain relieving agent it supports people in pain to sleep better. Capsules have a slower delivery action and can take up to 20 minutes to reach the desired outcome. However, drops pass directly through the mucous membranes of the mouth, allowing direct circulation into the blood stream and the effect is almost immediate. Try dispensing a controlled amount of Cannabigold Classic 500MG CBD Oil (£29.90,www.bionativa.co.uk) directly under your tongue. This oil is the perfect strength if you are new to the CBD world,” advises Nutritional Therapist, Fiona Lawson working in association with the CBD oil, CannabiGold (www.cannabigold.com).