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  • Writer's pictureMaija Tweeddale

How to be a gut health hero: simple tips

use your fork to help your gut

There is no one perfect diet, nor one that’s perfectly suited to you over the course of your life (read more about that here). Not only do dietary needs change over time, but the biggest determinant as to what effect a food is going to have on you is the state of your microbiome. And the most impactful way we can manipulate the microbiome is through food.  That’s a nice little loop.


The impact of your gut health is far-reaching throughout your body systems (hormones, cardiovascular, brain, nervous system and immunity) and your microbiome is a fundamental driver of your overall well being. If you’re not looking at your gut first then you’re really just putting a sticking plaster over whatever else you’ve got going on.


Can’t I just take a probiotic to sort out my gut?

No. My first question back to you if you asked me this would be “where did you get it from?” (There is a large range of poor quality probiotics available commercially) and I would quickly follow that with, “what are you taking if for?” It’s really cool that substantial research goes into probiotics now, and that research is revealing that it’s important to know which kind of probiotic strain will suit the problem you are trying to solve. Sometimes it’s important to get the right sub-strain. And if your gut health basics aren’t there in the first place then you’re likely wasting your money.


The really great thing to know is that you can go a long way to evening out the imbalance you might have going on in your gut yourself, before you get near a probiotic supplement. 


What can I do to look after my gut?

First you can reduce or remove the things that are causing your gut to be inflamed: foods that don’t agree with you, too much junk (sugar, sweeteners, emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial colours), toxins (think pesticides, pollution and plastics), poor sleep, not enough or too much exercise (each of us have a Goldilocks zone here) and high or chronic stress (read more about being busy here). These are important steps.


Overlay that with paying particular attention to re-establishing the multitude of good gut bug colonies by feeding them specifically: garlic, onion, leek, broccoli, kale, cabbage, asparagus and blueberries are good starters for 10.


And...breathe

Full diaphragmatic breathing (that’s breathing deeply into your belly) is hugely helpful to encourage your body to be in ‘rest and digest’ mode, which is where we are naturally healing inflammation, supporting the work of our microbiome and getting the most from the food we’ve chosen to nourish ourselves with. 


Most of us spend a fair portion of our day wearing our shoulders as earrings and breathing only with our throat. If you find it hard to consciously breathe more fully, then I advise you to schedule a meeting with yourself (yes, actually in your diary) for 10 minutes at some point in your day where you can sit quietly and alone and simply be with your breath. Nothing fancy, just stop and breathe slowly and deeply and quietly. 10 minutes. It makes a difference.


And if you’re at all like me and find it very easy to slip in the zone where you put yourself under way too much pressure to meet standards that may or may not be your own but are certainly too high, then I’d like to leave you with this key takeaway:


Don’t let ‘perfect’ get in the way of ‘good enough’. Ain’t none of us perfect, and we don’t need to be. Do the best you can, one thing at a time (and eat broccoli 😉).


To get more practical, bite-sized support about the things that will help you to feel better delivered straight to your inbox, you’re welcome to join the mailing list. See you there!

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