There are many contributing factors that affect your gut health. Factors such as diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep and medications will affect the state of how your body digests and eliminates what you eat and drink. When I wrote my book Perfect Digestive Health it was through dealing with my life long digestive issues and then finally discovering the way forward to good health.
To help support your digestive health, I've gathered my top tips on how to heal your gut naturally. The below information is based on my book Perfect Digestive Health and continual research on gut health.
1. PROBIOTICS WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE
First of all, it's important to know that there is a balance between good and bad bacteria in our digestive system, which is responsible for the way our bowel functions. These microorganisms also aid in the elimination of toxins, influence our ability to fight off infection and illness, and help to regulate our metabolism. According to a growing body of research, it turns out your gut bacteria plays a crucial role on your overall health and wellbeing, and both probiotics and prebiotics are part of this balance and play important roles in our gut health, so it's vital to consume both on a daily basis.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. Probiotics play an integral role in maintaining healthy gut function by preventing the invasion of harmful microbes. They are also involved in the synthesis of important nutrients such as vitamin K and short chain fatty acids. The word ‘probiotic’ actually means ‘pro life’ so, where possible, choose the foods that are life-giving to your health.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as tempeh, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt, as well as in powdered or capsule form from health food stores. FMT treatment has also been shown to be effective for treating patients who had previously failed to recover with antibiotic therapy. The transplantation of faecal matter from a human with healthy gut flora into someone with unhealthy gut flora has proven to be beneficial in treating the bacteria Clostridium difficile, colitis, crohn's, constipation, autoimmune disease and IBS.
With the right amount of good bacteria, you will build your immune system, your body will absorb the nutrients from food better and it will help with gut motility. Probiotic actually means pro life, so where possible choose the foods that are life giving to your health.
2. NOURISH YOUR BODY WITH PREBIOTICS
Prebiotcs fuel our intestinal probiotics. Prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in our large intestine, helping to promote balanced gut flora and healthy bowel function. When our good bacteria eat prebiotc fibre, they produce beneficial short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which inhibits the growth of disease-causing pathogens and maintains the health of our intestinal lining.
Natural prebiotics are found in a variety of plant-based foods, which is another great reason to eat a nourishing wholefoods diet. Rich sources of prebiotics include green leafy vegetables, citrus, leeks, flaxseed, apples and Organic Superfood.
3. DRINK TEA
I drink ginger tea daily. Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the ‘universal remedy’ due to its many benefits for the body, and it has been used for more than 2000 years to treat digestive issues. Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. Ginger also stimulates digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine, and helps to eliminate any discomfort after eating. In addition, ginger can stimulate saliva, bile and gastric enzymes to aid in the digestion of food.
The caffeine in green tea acts as a mild laxative to get the bowels moving in the morning. Studies from the European Journal of Pharmacology also report that green tea is beneficial in reducing gastrointestinal disorders.
4. USE AROMATICS + ANTI-INFLAMMATORY INGREDIENTS
Carrots contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, K, fibre, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, iodine, silica, sulphur, chromium. This super vegetable supports healthy digestion and metabolism, aids constipation and stomach ulcers, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy skin and good vision. Enjoy raw in juices or roasted in soups and salads. Garlic is rich in vitamins C, B complex, selenium, phosphorus, calcium. zinc, chromium magnesium, potassium, sulphur, allicin. Cabbage juice is extremely soothing and healing for the gastrointestinal tract. It can relive chronic inflammation, sooth peptic ulcers and improve bowel motility. If I'm consuming raw cabbage juice, I normally combine this with a little lemon juice or a little apple or cucumber for palatability. I also make fermented sauerkraut juice for it's amazing probiotic benefits. Lactobacillus plantarum is one of the main bacteria found in sauerkraut. It can help maintain the integrity of your intestinal lining and improve digestive symptions such as boating, constipation as well as boost your entire immune system. You will find my sauerkraut recipe and other fermented recipes in my book Purely Delicious.
Garlic is antimicrobial, antifungal, detoxifies the body, maintains gut flora balance, boosts immune function, reduces LDL cholesterol, liver and bile cleanser, natural antibiotic, dispels intestinal parasites, SIBO treatment.
5. NOURISH WITH BONE BROTH
Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatine and collagen. The collagen and gelatine are released from the bones to help to heal the lining of our gastrointestinal tract and reduce inflammation. Rich in the amino acids, glycine, glutamine and proline, gelatine also assists digestion by helping to promote stomach acid production. Bone broth super nutritious when it's homemade with quality ingredients such as grass fed meat or wild caught fish and has amazing healing effects on the body. They are also high in minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals, all in a form that is easy to digest and assimilate. It’s important to note that most commercially available stock or cubes are highly processed so they do not have the same healing effects on the body as when you make it yourself.
I have wonderful bone broth recipes in my cookbook Purely Delicious that are simple to make and delicious to eat. Make sure to invest in a good quality slow cooker if you decide to make these on a regular basis.
6. ENJOY A GLASS OF WHEATGRASS JUICE
Wheatgrass is wholefood supplement rich in living phytonutrients and is highly alkalising, allowing your body to heal and nourish in a perfect environment. Alkalising diets help improve overall health and support wellbeing. Wheatgrass is also rich in chlorophyll that gives green fruits and vegetables their colour. It is rich in magnesium, anti-inflammatory, alkalising and cleansing, which helps to eliminate toxins from the body and prevent the growth of pathogens. Chlorophyll also acts as a natural deodoriser, alleviating common side effects of poor digestion such as halitosis (bad breath) and body odour. Combine 1 teaspoon wheatgrass into 1 large glass of water or green juice and enjoy every day.
7. FODMAPS COULD BE TO BLAME FOR BLOATING
FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. In short, it stands for foods that contain short-chain carbs that are hard to digest, which can lead to bloating.
This is why I’ve designed recipes in my book Perfect Digestive Health to be low FODMAP, gluten and dairy free to give your digestive system the best chance of restoring its health.
8. EAT A WHOLEFOOD DIET
The 2 week meal plan in my book Perfect Digestive Health is based around a modified Mediterranean and low-fermentable carbohydrate diet that is rich in plant-based foods and good anti-inflammatory sources of wholefoods. The diet includes plenty of fresh vegetables, salads, fish and a generous amount of good heart healthy fats coming from nuts and olives. A good diet has always played a vital role in supporting health, which is why it is so important to think about what you put into your mouth every time you eat and drink and whether or not it makes a positive or negative effect to your body.
Enjoy your journey of healthy eating with balance, wisdom and moderation.