Listen to your body
Digestive health and total wellbeing are intimately linked, but so often we miss the signs, or mistake them for something else. Once you make that critical connection though, the pieces begin to fall neatly into place. From there, it’s easy to make changes and have your gut doing a happy dance again. (Awkward visual, but you get the picture!)
What Think of your digestive system as Mission Control. It contains trillions of bacteria that beaver away night and day processing food, producing protective nutrients and hormones, fighting off inflammation and disease and generally keeping the peace. In ideal conditions, there’s a ratio of roughly 85 per cent good bacteria to 15 per cent bad.
When Things start going pear-shaped in the gut when harmful bacteria invade and start wiping out the good guys. Why Diet, lifestyle, stress, illness and certain medications (especially antibiotics and antacids) are often to blame for bacterial imbalance.
Probiotic foods contain live friendly bacteria that repopulate and protect your intestines. Prebiotic foods nourish them and boost their numbers. Combine for maximum impact!
• Cultured, fermented vegies such as sauerkraut and kimchi
• Yoghurt. Look for the words ‘live and active cultures’ on the label and choose ones with less than 15mg of sugar
• Kefir, a tangy fermented drink made from milk and live kefir grains. Coconut kefir is a dairy-free option
• Miso soup
• Apple cider vinegar (raw, unfiltered and unpasteurised)
• Tempeh, a granular and protein-packed meat substitute with a smoky, nutty flavour.
• Raw onions
• Wheat bran and oats
Good intestinal rules to live by
• Add more prebiotic and probiotic foods to your daily diet (see the list above).
• Take a daily probiotic supplement to boost good bacteria in your gut. There are plenty on the market, so ask a health food store for recommendations.
• Cut back on processed, refined and fast foods.
• Eat more fresh plant-based, fibre-filled and whole foods.
• Minimise the amount of added sugar in your diet – bad bugs love the stuff
• Stay well hydrated by aiming to drink one to two litres of water every day.
•Nix the stress. Being in a state of high stress for prolonged periods of time affects gut health. Find ways to relieve stress by being physically active, meditating, spending time outdoors, laughing more or whatever works for you.
• Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary for diagnosed bacterial infections (so not for colds, flu or a broken fingernail!).