Do I have a happy gut? If not, how can I support it?

The gut can be defined as the stomach or belly, but most commonly it is used in reference to the entire gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Most people tend to have the understanding that good gut health = good general health, and yes, that’s right. A lot of work (regardless of the condition) tends to begin in the gut due to its close relationships with many other systems and organs in the body. One example of this is the gut–brain axis, where bidirectional communication exists between the central and enteric nervous system, linking intestinal functions with the emotion and cognitive centers of the brain. In addition to this more recent research has found the impact gut microbiota has on these specific interactions.

So, if we know how important gut health is in accordance with our general wellbeing, how do we know if we have a happy gut or not? Chances are, if you have an upset gut, you will know. However here is:

3 signs to tell if you have a happy and well-functioning GIT:

1. You pass a bowel motion regularly (1-3x daily) and your poo is like a sausage or snake, formed yet soft, smooth, and easy to pass.

2. You can eat most foods and meals with ease (no abnormal bloating, pain, reflux, flatulence, etc.).

3. You have fewer other things going on (fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, skin conditions, inflammatory conditions, etc.).

If you don’t resonate with any of the above, chances are, your GIT needs a little support.

Now, of course, you could go do your own research and try out some things for yourself. Or you can invest in the support of a qualified professional (like me) to get down to the original cause of the gut dysfunction (stress, chronic NSAID use, dietary choices, DAO deficiency, etc.), treat it there, and then learn long term management strategies to keep your gut as happy as it can be – and improve your general wellbeing in the process!

If you do want to try some things from home, here are 6 generalized tips to improve your gut health from home:

1. Reduce stress. Support your nervous system by reducing stress by implementing stress management strategies that work for you.

2. Increase dietary fiber and prebiotics. By doing this you are providing the beneficial gut bacteria with food to eat which acts as a modulator to increase the beneficial gut bacteria and decrease the problem-causing ones. (NOTE: sometimes with specific gut disorders, this can make symptoms worse, thus it is best to work with a qualified professional).

3. Prioritize sleep. Make sure you make sleep a priority as this is when all the repairing happens on the inside.

4. Mindful eating. Eating mindfully allows you to focus on flavours and sensations whilst activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) ‘rest and digest’ activity, which helps to regulate peristalsis, digestive enzyme production, hydrochloric acid, and bile output, as well as improving nutrient absorption and assimilation.

5. Focus on more whole foods as opposed to processed and refined foods. (NOTE: sometimes with specific gut disorders, this can make symptoms worse, thus it is best to work with a qualified professional).

6. Utilise herbal teas. Herbal teas can be extremely therapeutic and can be used in various ways to support the GIT. If you need to support digestive enzyme secretion try having a shot of dandelion root tea 20 mins before a meal or if you’re prone to cramping post-eating try having a peppermint tea after a meal.

If you found these tips helpful let me know below. And, if you feel you’d like more in-depth and personal support, please reach out to me or book in for an initial Naturopathic consultation here.

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