Gut health: most important tips

If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or some other gut disease with everyday symptoms like gas, constipation, flatulence, you must know how important and comforting a good day is. In order to relieve the symptoms though and have gut microbiome balance –and therefore a robust immune system-, a holistic approach driven by professionals is essential . It is then that a remission in symptoms can occur.

Nutrition and lifestyle factors are truly important (take a look at my e-book here about Irritable Bowel Syndrome and low FODMAPs tips) and it’s a good place to start, taking into consideration the following tips.

Get moving
It’s well known that the more energetic we are everyday, the more our gut performs peristalsis, which is wave-like muscle contractions that help move food through the digestive tract. If you work in an office everyday for 8-10 hours, make sure you get up every half an hour and walk, and also choose walking after work, as much as possible.  Of course exercise can help, so pick your favorite type of exercise and make it a habit of yours at least 3 times a week.

Handle your stress
Stress can fire up the symptoms and although no one can live a stress-free life, there are ways to manage it and keep it at the lowest levels as much as possible. Whether it’s yoga, stretching, meditation, a walk with friends, music, cooking, knitting, you need to find what relaxes you and do it 20-30 minutes everyday. Don’t forget that research shows that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is more of a combination of irritable gut and irritable… brain.

Sleep tight
Maybe you can’t make the connection, but a good night’s sleep (or reversely a bad one) can make a difference in gut microbiome. According to research, gut microbiome composition is linked to sleep physiology and partial sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome composition in as little as 48 hours. Not to mention that poor sleep patterns lead to greater stress the other day and you already know what stress can do to you as far as your gut is concerned. What you need to do is find a sleeping routine that suits you (hot shower before bed, reading a book etc), make sure you turn off the lights (yes, blue lights from tv, smartphones etc too) and stick to the same time schedule everyday, going to bed as early as possible. Quality sleep is essential to gut microbiome, gut health and immune system. Never forget about that!

Adjust your nutritional plans
Although a nutritionist is the ideal solution, as he/she will provide you with the nutrition and nutrients your system needs, you can make some improvements yourself as well to help your gut and your health.

  • Watch out for some fruits like peaches, mango and plums as they have a high content of fructose which might be difficult for some people to digest.
  • Another thing that needs attention is foods high in FODMAPs (short-chain carbohydrates that the small intestine absorbs poorly and may cause digestive problems to some people) which increase the volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine causing gas, cramps, pain and flatulence in some people. These foods might be lentils, onions, cabbage, broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts etc. You need to pay attention to which foods cause you symptoms and consult a nutritionist who will guide you on how to avoid and reintroduce these foods to your system.
  • Whatever you do, never forget that the more plants you eat (at least 30 different ones per week according to the American Gut Project) the better for your gut, as you’ll ensure greater variety in good bacteria in your gut.
  • If caffeine gives you gas, try to avoid it and prefer red wine over other alcoholic drinks which is antioxidant (always in moderation).
  • Fermented foods are always a good idea for the gut and immune system, as they enhance the gut microbiome balance. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha, tempeh, miso are some good options that help.
  • Try some relieving herbs like chamomile, aloe vera, mint which have calming and antispasmodic properties or a nice, relaxing ginger tea.