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Gut Health: Listen to Your Gut

Your gut is super smart. The current scientific theory is that your gut has as many neurons as your brain. And those neurons do a lot of talking. 

Some people suggest that if you move and stop, then ask your gut where it’s at it’ll actually let you know. That method takes a lot of practice and patience -- ironically that quiet listening is probably exactly what our bodies need us to do. Short or long term stress can have a huge impact on our gut health. So take some quiet time for yourself. Also exercise. Research suggests that exercise can have a positive effect on your gut independent of diet or other factors. Recent research  also indicates that your gut health can also trigger increased stress, mood swings, depression, thinking skills and memory. 

Your Gut

I’m in no-way an expert in gut health but as I read about it, I’m becoming more-and-more fascinated by the topic.

There’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way.

  • Just because medical studies 'prove’ something is ‘true’ or ‘isn’t true’ doesn’t mean it’s not a real impacting thing in someone’s life
  • One size does not fit all… everyone is different, with different experiences, symptoms and treatments. An inflamed gut might cause a sinus reaction in one person but another person might suffer from ‘brain fog’ instead. To make things more complicated, although one person’s symptoms might be caused by gut-health related issues it doesn’t mean the same symptoms in the next person might be related to the gut. These different symptoms can make it difficult to nail down what is actually the underlying issue from one person to the next.
  • Things outside our gut also contribute to the health of our gut. Sleep. Exercise. Stress.

What we all need to do is really tune into our gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome is the bacteria, viruses and fungi found in your intestines which is designed to help control digestion. Every one of us is different, with different reactions, so it’s important you know when your gut microbiome is off-balance and what it is telling you.

Can you actually listen to your gut? I think if you’ve taken time to learn how to recognise what your gut is telling you, then you can probably hear what it has to say earlier than others of us who are still learning. Recognising symptoms early and then doing something about it is super important. Often, we’re too busy to take notice of those niggling symptoms only to find out later on that we should have taken those symptoms seriously much earlier. As we get older and go through hormonal changes and our bodies become less resilient, it becomes more important to be far more aware of what our guts are telling us.

Symptoms to Be Aware Of

Some symptoms you’re probably aware of:

  • Belching or gas within an hour of eating (related to the upper intestine)
  • Belching or gas after two hours of eating (more related to the lower intestine)
  • Heartburn or reflux
  • Bloating one to two hours after eating 
  • Stomach pain or cramps 

Some symptoms you might not be aware of:

  • Bad breath
  • If you don’t feel like eating breakfast in the morning
  • Feeling nauseous in the morning
  • Suffering from brain fog
  • Feeling tired after eating
  • Constant fatique
  • Eating enough food but not feeling satisfied after you’ve eaten
  • An itchy bum
  • Itchy skin
  • 3pm cravings
  • Night-time over eating
  • Increased pulse
  • Sinus infection
  • Craving bread
  • Sugar cravings
  • Unintentional weight changes

Take Action

See your GP if you experience any of these symptoms persistently.

Otherwise, keep up a positive and healthy regime.

  • Eat and drink in moderation, except water, drink lots of that
  • If you’re able, adopt a diet rich in a diverse range of whole foods
  • Aim for a diet higher in fibre as fibre helps the growth of good gut bacteria (but note a diet too high in heavy fibre might be too much for your gut to handle)
  • Aim for more of a plant-based diet (if you choose to aim for a raw foods diet, that some raw foods are healthier for you when they are blanched or cooked than if they are raw, due to the use of pesticides and genetic modification)
  • Eat lots of vegetables, legumes, beans and fruit
  • Keep up your probiotic foods: yoghurt, fermented non-alcoholic drinks, unpasteurised fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi, miso (try it dribbled over your oven-roasted veggies, mmmwwahhh), kombucha (but get those brands that are lower in sugar), pickles
  • Keep up your prebiotic foods: artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, apples, cocoa, hemp seeds, seaweed
  • Reduce your use of sweeteners - natural or artificial; too much will increase insulin impairment
  • Drink lots of water (just a reminder)
  • Take time to rest
  • Take time to exercise
  • Make a habit of getting adequate sleep
  • Consider growing your own fruit and vegetables. Not only would tending your own garden help reduce your stress levels but you will know exactly what has been used on them to get rid of parasites