The primary role of the digestive system is to break down and absorb food, providing our body with the fuels and nutrients it requires to function optimally. What we eat and drink builds the foundation of our health. We eat to obtain nutrients for our muscles and organs, to promote the growth and repair of our tissues, and to support our immune system in fighting disease.
‘DIGESTIVE HEALTH’ is a broad term that has a different meaning to each of us. We are all so different and have our own unique digestive systems.
The foods that work for some may not work for others. It's a great idea to keep a daily diary of the foods you eat and any symptoms you may experience afterwards. In this way, it will become easier to identify foods that trigger unpleasant symptoms.
WHAT ARE SOME FOODS THAT I SHOULD AVOID IF I'M HAVING GUT ISSUES?
Common dietary culprits that may be affecting your digestion include poor quality food choices (e.g. refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods), consuming inadequate fresh fruits and vegetables (plant fibre and nutrients), eating too fast, dehydration, food sensitivities (gluten, wheat and lactose intolerances), spicy foods, oily foods, heavy meats and eating large portion sizes.
Where possible, avoid packaged foods. Most processed foods are full of preservatives, fillers, sweeteners, and gums that can disrupt the gut bacteria as they are difficult to digest. Everyone is different with unique hormonal and metabolic characteristics, which means you can react to foods differently than other people. Some trial and error will be involved in finding what works best for you.
WHAT ARE THE BEST FOODS FOR GUT HEALTH?
Wholefoods, fermented foods and nourishing broths are my go-tos!
Including good amounts of fibre rich fresh fruits and vegetables. Fibre acts as a prebiotic and promotes healthy gut function. It also helps promote peristalsis in the gut and aids in the elimination of waste. Fresh fruits and vegetables also contain enzymes that will nourish your body. Try my Green Kiwi Smoothie that's easy to digest and rich in pre-biotics, fibre and protein.
Fermented foods provide billions of beneficial bacteria for the gut. Try to include sauerkraut, kimchi, Greek yoghurt, kefir, crème fraiche, natto, tempeh, miso and apple cider vinegar into your daily diet.
Bone broths provide you with essential nutrients to help repair your gut and are incredibly gentle on your digestive system. Try my Collagen Rich Miso Soup that's rich in protein and nutrients and gentle on the tummy.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR A HEALTHY GUT?
I believe that a healthy diet is the number one intervention in managing a healthy gut. However, any foods or supplements that contain probiotics, essential fatty acids and digestive enzymes are optimal for supporting a healthy gut.
WHAT'S CAUSING MY BLOATING?
Bloating can be caused by multiple factors. The list is long with the top culprits being Stress, carbonated beverages, indigestion, food allergies, overeating, overloading on dietary fibre (legumes), and rushed eating.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS TO REDUCE BLOATING?
1. Cut back on carbonated beverages.
2. Slow down when eating.
3. When consuming high fibre foods such as chickpeas or beans, start small and work your way up.
4. Introduce more cooked foods and consume less raw, cold foods. Cooked foods are gentler on your gut.
5. Work with a health care practitioner to find out any food triggers or intolerances that may be present such as FODMAP's.
6. Rule out medical conditions with your health care professional that may include gut flora imbalance (intestinal dysbiosis), allergies, food sensitivities, motility issues, nutritional deficiencies.
WHAT ARE SOME NATURAL REMEDIES FOR CONSTIPATION?
Too much fibre and too little water can cause a lot of problems when suffering from constipation. Make sure to keep up your water intake throughout the day for gut motility. Kiwi Fruits are my go-to remedy for constipation and is extremely soothing and healing for the gastrointestinal tract. Kiwi fruits are also high in soluble fibre and vitamin C as well as being low FODMAP. I love making my Green Smoothie using kiwi fruit, Everyday Greens and Marine Collagen.
A gut reset or detox may also help to eliminate waste. Body cleansing juices and warming clear broths can revitalise your gut. Drinking a warming cup of Matcha Green Tea can also stimulate motility much like coffee. Gentle exercise helps to stimulate gut function and assist motility so try and move your body every day.
WHAT IS THE BEST FIBRE SUPPLEMENT?
I am fully supportive of natural fruit and vegetables first, and supplement as a secondary. Make sure you include a variety of plant-based foods rich in different types of fibres and prebiotics such as broccoli, pear, oranges and pumpkin.
If consuming more fibre in your diet, make sure you are increasing your water intake to keep bowel movement regular and routine.
I HAVE IBS – HOW CAN I EASE THE SYMPTOMS?
It is essential to find the trigger of IBS symptoms to know how to treat them. Working with a healthcare practitioner is important to assist in finding the cause. Starting a low FODMAP diet might also help identify the triggers. Try intermittent fasting, nourishing bone broths, soothing herbal teas and reducing stress factors.
My favourite gut-friendly smoothie is my Kiwi Smoothie. It's packed with nutrients that are ideal for healing the gut.
HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT MY GUT?
Stress is an extremely common factor affecting gut health. Stress puts our bodies in fight-or-flight mode. A flood of stress hormones, including cortisol, affects your digestive system. The brain and digestive system share a two-way connection, so not only does a healthy gut affect your mental state, but your mental state affects how your gut functions.
Reducing your stress in all aspects of your life is essential for your health. However, it is especially critical at times of eating to make sure you are in a relaxed state. This includes reducing mindless eating, eating on the go, rushing and taking a few deep breaths before you eat.
Stress, as we know, is caused by many things, including work and illness, but other significant factors are highly-processed diets, alcohol, smoking and a lack of exercise.
WHAT PROTEINS ARE GOOD FOR GUT HEALTH?
Protein isolates are what you want to look for. And make sure there are no added fillers or sweeteners which are common digestive upset triggers.
Lactose can be an irritant to the gut for those who have a sensitivity. Healthy Chef Pure Native WPI has minimal amounts of lactose, due to the cold filtration process it undergoes. We have also added lactase, meaning it is easily digestible.
Healthy Chef Organic Pea Protein is also an isolate; however, it is a plant-based protein source for those looking for a completely dairy-free option.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE GUT-HEALING DRINKS?
Firstly, it is really important to be drinking 2-3 litres of water each day. Water is essential for a well functioning gut. In addition to this, broths, vitamin-rich supplements, juices and teas are also highly beneficial.
Broths are a beautiful addition to your diet, and they provide plenty of collagen and restorative nutrients for your digestive system.
Juices can provide plenty of nutrients while being gentle on digestion. Some of my favourites are blends of carrot, ginger and cucumber, or orange, lemon, carrot and ginger.
Herbal teas are also gentle on the gut. Healthy Chef Digest + Calm tea contains peppermint, fennel and liquorice root, formulated to soothe the stomach and calm digestive distress.
WHICH OF YOUR PRODUCTS ASSIST WITH GUT HEALTH?
Everyday Greens was designed to nourish and restore the gut—a blend of probiotics, L-Glutamine and Bromelain to reset digestive health.
Marine Collagen is 100% pure collagen protein, with no added nasties. Collagen is necessary to seal and heal the lining of our gut, making this product extremely beneficial for digestive health.
Organic Superfood provides a generous amount of prebiotics and nutrients to help feed the good bacteria and build a healthy microbiome.