Your gut plays a hugely important role in how your feeling day to day. Dive in to PANA’s Essential Guide to find out why…
- What is gut health?
- Why is gut health so important?
- Understanding your gut
- Listening to your gut
- Looking after your gut
- Dietary changes for a happier gut
What is gut health?
The gut is the same as the digestive system:
The path food takes from your mouth to your bottom
- Taking in nutrients (start)
- Absorbing nutrients (middle)
- Removing waste (end)
Why is Gut Health so Important?
*serotonin = “the brain’s happy hormone”
TIP: serotonin imbalances are linked with anxiety and depression. While a healthy gut is not the cure to this, it can help to reduce down days and low energy.
Understanding Your Gut
– A community of bacteria that is crucial in fighting disease and maintaining health.
– Everyone’s microbiome is UNIQUE and has a different mix of bacteria in the gut.
– For this reason, an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria can lead to tummy troubles and certain illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease are linked to this.
Listening to Your Gut
|Signs you may have an unhappy gut||The why|
|Upset stomach – Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and heartburn||A balanced and healthy gut has less trouble processing your food and eliminating waste|
|High sugar diet – decreases the amount of good bacteria in the gut||This reduction can increase your sugar cravings creating a cycle of damage. This can lead to inflammation|
|Unintentional weight changes – if you’re gaining weight without a change to your diet or exercise this can be a sign of an unhappy gut||Gut imbalances reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar and store fat. For example, reduced nutrient absorption can cause a person to overeat in order to meet their body’s demands|
|Sleep disturbance/constant tiredness||Serotonin is a chemical produced in the gut that affects your sleep as well as your mood|
|Skin irritation||Eczema can be linked to gut damage as inflammation can cause some proteins in the gut to leak out into the body|
|*Food intolerances – difficulty digesting certain foods||These are linked to poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea|
* food intolerances are different to food allergies!
Looking After Your Gut
Lower your stress levels
– meditation, walking and yoga are all great ways to do this.
– TIP: remember your brain and gut are in constant communication – stress doesn’t only affect your brain!
Get enough sleep
– at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is recommended as poor sleep can lead to an unhealthy gut and vice versa.
– this helps to promote full digestion and proper absorption, this can then help to reduce digestive discomfort.
– 6-8 glasses of water are recommended by the NHS. It helps the passage of waste through your digestive system preventing constipation.
– if you have symptoms of discomfort after eating a type of food, try and eliminate them from your diet. Keeping a food diary can help especially in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
– cancers of the gut (a.k.a bowel cancer) are linked to poor gut health and become more likely the older you get, screening on the NHS is offered to those aged 55 and over.
TIP: if you find cereals and grains cause bloating, eat more fruit and veg instead as your source of fibre.
Dietary Changes for a Happier Gut
Having problems with your gut? Here are changes in your diet that might help:
(1) FATTY FOODS: are harder to digest and can cause stomach pain and heartburn.
- So… Cut back on food such as chips, burgers and fried foods and instead try to eat more LEAN MEAT and FISH
(2) SPICY FOODS: can cause you discomfort, try to lower the amount you consume.
- can cause increased heartburn in some people and diarrhoea in others, especially those with irritable bowel disease
- Instead, go for drinks such as herbal teas, milk and water
(4) COOKING METHOD: Try to GRILL instead of fry food for a healthier alternative
What are they?
– Live bacteria and yeasts thought to help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut
What should they be used for?
– Preventing diarrhoea when taking certain antibiotics and relieving some symptoms of IBS
Where can I find them?
– In some yoghurts or in food supplements
Which one is right for me?
– There isn’t a one size fits all approach and proper research should be conducted before buying as some work better than others
How long do they take to work?
– It can take at least 4 weeks before an effect is seen
Are they safe?
– Research suggests they are safe for most people
A healthy gut makes a healthier you
Some people regard the gut as the second brain. Listen to your gut, take care of it and it will take care of you.
Written by Mide Ololade BSc (Hons)
Edited and designed by Rebekah Jade BSc (Hons)
- 7 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and 7 Ways to Improve Gut Health [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health#the-takeaway
- Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical & Experimental Immunology. 2008;153:3-6.
- 10 Health Facts About Your Gut and What’s Going On [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/things-your-gut-wants-you-to-know#8
- Good foods to help your digestion [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2019 [cited 2 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/good-foods-to-help-your-digestion/
- Your Gut Feeling: A Healthier Digestive System Means a Healthier You | Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology [Internet]. Med.nyu.edu. 2019 [cited 2 February 2019]. Available from: https://med.nyu.edu/medicine/gastro/about-us/gastroenterology-news-archive/your-gut-feeling-healthier-digestive-system-means-healthier
- Probiotics [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2019 [cited 2 February 2019]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/probiotics/