In my last newsletter, I discussed 5 signs that your gut is unhappy. These included mood disorders, diarrhoea, gas and bloating, constipation and chronic fatigue. As promised, here are my top five suggestions of what you can do if you can relate to any of these symptoms and feel gut dysbiosis is the root cause.
Many things could be irritating your gut, from the food you eat, medication and supplements you take, the stress in your life, to infections, overgrowth of harmful bacteria, pathogens and parasites.
When it comes to food, common irritants include alcohol, caffeine, processed food and food additives. You may also have your own list of unique foods alongside these items that do not agree with you personally, which would be identified from completing a food diary and paying attention to any symptoms that arise and matching them to the food eaten if you are not sure already.
The idea is to remove as many of these items listed above as is possible, which will automatically allow the gut to repair and calm down any inflammation. This is known as a food elimination diet and is the first step to improving gut function, which typically means avoiding the foods that give you symptoms for four weeks
For a happy gut, one key factor is good digestion. Good digestion requires food to be chewed correctly (as the stomach doesn’t contain any teeth!), stomach acid, bile, digestive enzymes and key nutrients.
If your body is struggling to obtain or make any of these key elements for good digestion, it is important to make sure you focus on supporting the body with foods that contain the nutrients to help the body produce these elements.
Sometimes the food we eat doesn’t contain adequate amounts of vital nutrients, even when a healthy diet is eaten so supplementation may be necessary of the following nutrients that are often deficient in people with digestive conditions: vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Additional supplements to consider for digestive support include betaine HCL, bile salts and enzymes.
When your symptoms have subsided, it is a good time to add in prebiotic foods and probiotic foods. Prebiotic foods are the food for the good bacteria known as probiotics. Both are vital to keeping our gut health and immune system strong!
Prebiotic foods include onions, garlic, asparagus, apples and bananas.
Probiotic foods include fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. When introducing these foods be sure to go slowly for best results, and only add a little at a time until your gut has adjusted. Probiotics are also available in supplement form from all reputable health stores.
For true gut repair, the intestinal cells and mucosa need support in terms of specific key nutrients to help make the repair happen such as vitamins A, C, D & E and zinc. Also, all the amino acids that make up protein are needed daily, which can be found in bone broth.
Supplements such as L-glutamine, collagen, aloe vera, marshmallow or slippery elm are also often advised to help the gut repair itself, so long as they are suitable for the individual. Always be sure to speak to your health practitioner before embarking on any new supplement regime, to make sure they are right for you.
Other factors can influence gut health such as stress, sleep, exercise and how happy we are in our relationships.
Be sure to go through each item on this list one by one, and come up with a strategy for improving each individual item. For best results, it is best to work on one point at a time with this one especially, as feeling overwhelmed will only create more stress which isn’t good for repairing gut health.
Beyond The 5 Steps
After you have successfully worked through all of the above suggestions, symptoms should have improved. After four weeks, it is then a good time to slowly reintroduce the foods you have been avoiding and to note down any symptoms you experience when doing so. You might find that some of the foods you excluded do not cause any symptoms now after reintroduction. You may also have a list of foods that just don’t make you thrive, but this list might be shorter than when you began. If this is the case, be sure to find a replacement for that particular food to ensure you are still eating in abundance and can obtain joy from your meals.