May 12, 2021
Have you ever had the feeling of “butterflies in your stomach”, hear people tell you to “go with your gut” when making a decision, or feel nauseous before a job interview? That’s because of how closely our gut and the brain interact. Our gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive to emotion. Stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, to name a few, all play part in triggering symptoms in our gut.
For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to digestive problems such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. However, studies show that it may also be the other way around. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes.
I believe, that in order to achieve overall health, we need to take action both in terms of adequate intake of nutrients supporting our gut microbiome and look after our brain. Here are a few simple steps we can all take to improve it:
Understanding Mind-Gut Connection and 8 Simple Steps How to Improve it
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen which nourishes the intestinal lining and reduces inflammation and the amino acids glutamine, arginine, proline and glycine. Bone broth is easily digested and contains immune-boosting components that aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
These include sauerkraut (look for unpasteurized), miso, tempeh, kombucha, kefir, kimchi (make sure to check the labels – it is important to buy foods labelled “active” or “live” cultures of bacteria). They improve digestion, help restore proper bacteria balance in the gut, help increase immunity, increase vitamin content and improve absorption, as well as, help improve your emotional health.
They help reduce inflammation, improve digestion and act as food for good gut bacteria. Coconut oil, nuts, flax seeds, avocados and fish rich in Omega-3 like salmon, are just some examples.
High Fibre Foods
Fibre intake is critical in gut health. Try adding legumes, beans, berries, bananas, oats, quinoa, almonds and asparagus, to name a few, to your diet. Supplements such as psyllium husk are an excellent source of soluble fibre. They act as prebiotic that help grow beneficial bacteria that assist in digestion and absorption of your food. Look out for non-GMO supplements.
Lower Your Stress Levels
This one may sound easy but it is quite challenging for a number of people. I find exercising, going for a walk, spending quality time with loved ones, aromatherapy, reading, meditation and visualization to be very effective. No screen time at least 2 hours before bed is also a great way to ensure a peaceful sleep which is beneficial.
Lack of sleep can increase stress, which affects the gut. This can lead to a host of issues including bloating, inflammation, stomach pains, food sensitivities, and changes to the gut microbiome. Sleep should be a priority and we should aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night.
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Staying hydrated is a simple way to promote a healthy gut.
We always seem to be in a rush but it is so important to take your time when we eat. Allow for that connection between all your senses, smell your food, chew every bite thoroughly and appreciate every bite – it will help with digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as reduce any digestive discomfort and promote a healthy gut.
As Hippocrates said: “All disease starts in the gut“
The human gut is more complex than previously thought and has a huge impact on whole-body health. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, clearer skin, healthy sleep, and effective digestion. Knowing just how important our gut is, it is up to us to help it function at an optimal level and by trying some or all of the tips above we can make huge improvements in our overall health.