Your gut is the gateway to better health. This is because its primary role is to break down and absorb your food, providing your body with the nutrients and fuel to function at its best.
Feed your gut well, and your health will thrive, but feed it with the wrong types of foods and you compromise your body’s ability to promote growth and repair, support your immune system and keep your muscles and organs healthy.
While everyone has their own distinct genetic makeup and exposure to different environmental factors that influence their gut health, there are a few common factors that can trigger digestive issues.
Discover if any of the below gut-related symptoms relate to you and how you can fix them for optimum gut health:
You feel bloated
If you often feel bloated, it could be a sign that your diet is high in inflammatory foods. These include refined wheat, refined sugar, alcohol and coffee - all of which can aggravate and bloat your digestive system.
What to do: Eat anti-inflammatory foods
Instead of a morning caffeine hit, swap coffee for a matcha green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is alkaline to your digestive system. Make a green juice or smoothie or a wheatgrass shot a daily habit. Greens are rich in chlorophyll, that help alkalise the body and work as a natural anti-inflammatory. Chlorophyll will also helps to nourish the digestive system and supports the elimination of waste.
You crave sweet foods
Indulging your sweet tooth might be a party for your taste buds, but your tummy won’t be celebrating. Sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut, causing an imbalance. In addition, your mood and body’s ability to burn fat can be compromised if you’re always relying on the sweet stuff to keep you going.
What to do: Swap sugar for bitter foods
Stimulate your digestive system by incorporating bitter foods into your diet. Bitter foods stimulate the digestive juices and cleanse the liver. Lemon juice in water, for example, helps stimulate the production of bile, which acts like a natural laxative, and increases stomach acid, helping you break down food more effectively. Limes, grapefruit, dandelion, bitter greens and ginger are also bitter foods to include daily in your diet.
You always feel hungry
Always feeling peckish during the day? The reason why you might not be feeling satisfied after each meal, is that your body might not be getting an adequate supply of protein.
What to do: Include protein
Protein can work effectively to regulate the appetite, increase satiety and encourage significant weight loss. You can check how much you need on The Healthy Chef Protein Calculator. If you have a sensitive gut, you might want to try our range of protein powders specifically designed to help support perfect digestive health. They are free from gluten, fillers, gums, artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives and sugar that can often cause gastric distress. They are also low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPS) and can be enjoyed by everyone including those with gastrointestinal issues and lactose intolerance.
You feel lethargic / stressed / moody
Studies have found associations between our gut health and our emotional state. Our intestinal nervous system and gut flora are key players in the production of chemicals that regulate our thoughts and moods. About 90 per cent of our body’s serotonin (our ‘feel good’ hormone) is found in the gut, where it aids in regulating sleep, mood and greater sense of physical and mental wellbeing.
What to do: Boost water intake + movement
Again, it’s best to avoid refined flours, refined sugar and processed foods and stimulants such as caffeine that can irritate your digestive system. You want to ensure your body is absorbing all the nutrients from health-promoting whole foods, so it’s important to drink a minimum of 2-3 litres of water per day to support nutrient absorption and removal of waste and toxin build up. Also, get your body moving! Physical activity speeds up digestion, stimulates the muscles in the digestive tract and elevates your mood. No time? Just take a walk around the block! Aim for just 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Not quite regular? Evidence has shown that constipation can be induced by an abundance of bad bacteria in the gut, which can affect the motility of the bowels (i.e. partial paralysis of the colon). Specific probiotic treatments have been found to help restore the gut flora and reverse constipation.
What to do: Eat more fruits and vegetables + probiotic-rich foods
A simple way to help avoid constipation is to make sure the majority of your meals include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are high in fibre, which acts as a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria in the gut) and promotes healthy gut function. Also helping with better gut motility are probiotic-rich foods (foods full of live good bacteria) such as cultured yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. These foods promote healthy gut bacteria, keeping it in balance. I love eating my Roasted Carrot + Ginger Soup from my book Perfect Digestive Health, that works as an anti-inflammatory and helps soothe and nourish my digestive system. Another favourite is my Daily Green Juice that helps alkalinise my body and calms my digestion.