Our intestinal tract is inhabited by a large and diverse population of
bacteria, this is collectively termed the gut microbiota. The average
human gut microbiota contains about 100 trillion bacteria (ten times more
cells than in our body) which in total, weigh up to 2kg! Our gut is also
home to 70% of our immune cells.
These microbes play an important role in digestion, immunity, skin and
mood. Therefore, keeping these microbes happy and healthy can be
considered vital for good health!
Here are our top tips for looking after your gut.
1. Know your triggers
Many things can trigger digestive upsets, and these vary from person to person. These can be things like coffee, alcohol, dairy products, gluten, medications or even stressful events. Pinpointing your own triggers can help you reduce or prevent digestive issues.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet
Include fibre-rich plant foods such as beans pulses, whole grains and plenty of vegetables. Make small swaps like switching your white bread, pasta and rice to wholemeal versions. Sprinkle seeds on your breakfast and salad. Eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables as different colours will have a range of phytonutrients. For an extra helping of fibre, keep the skin on your fruit and vegetables. Your gut benefits from diversity so why not trying something new the next time you go food shopping!
3. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated can be considered one of the most important aspects of diet. Drinking enough fluids ensures that all bodily functions are able to take place as normal. Water in the body is essential for many important processes to take place.
Water is essential for carrying essential glucose, oxygen and nutrients to cells and to the kidneys to get rid of waste products we no longer want. It also lubricates our joints and eyes, helps our digestive system function and keeps our skin healthy. Aim for 1.2-2 L of fluid per day. This is the equivalent of 8-10 glasses per
4. Wash your hands
Washing your hands both before and after using the bathroom, as well as when preparing food can help prevent the spread of potentially dangerous bacteria that can upset your stomach.
5. Manage stress
The majority of us will feel stressed at some time in our day, whilst small amounts of stress is normal it is important to find time to unwind and relax. Stress not only affects us mentally; it can also impact our physical health and sometimes leaves us more vulnerable to infections. Did you know that the brain and gut communicate? This means that when we are feeling stressed, it can affect our gut too! Therefore, it is important we find time to unwind and relax. Meditation, yoga and deep breathing can be a very effective way of relaxing the body, you can find free apps and classes online. Try and get outside daily, even if it's just for 20 minutes, this will help you unwind and also add some movement to your day.
6. Take live culture supplements
For many people, an imbalance of bacteria in your gut can lead to digestive issues. Investing in a friendly bacteria supplement or including foods and drink containing friendly bacteria (including kefir, kimchi, live yogurt, miso, tempeh and kombucha) in your diet may help harmonise your gut!