Over the last decade, we have learnt so much about the importance of the gut microbiome & how it is a direct reflection of our overall health & wellbeing – both physical & mental. By recognising if your gut is out of whack, it can help you take steps to improve it and achieve better general health. Lifebox Owner & In House Nutritionist Alicia is going to discuss gut health in more detail, signs of poor gut health and easy ways to improve it.
First things first, what is the gut microbiome?
The term ‘gut’ collectively refers to all of the organs that play a role in digestion. This includes the large intestine (or colon) that contains trillions of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, parasites and viruses – known as the microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome is unique & contains a mix of good & bad bacteria that plays a pivotal role in many bodily functions. Such as protecting against pathogenic bacteria, supporting metabolism, production of vitamins/minerals, detoxification, hormone regulation + more.
Responsible for so many important functions, it’s no surprise that if your gut microbiome is imbalanced then it can impact your overall health and cause a wide range of symptoms. So here are the key signs that your gut microbiome needs some help & how to fix it.
If you find your digestion is sluggish & you are prone to constipation, it could indicate that you’re not getting enough fibre in your diet. Fibre is found in fruit, vegetables and whole-grains – not only does it provide roughage to help push food through the digestive system and bulk for your stools, it also provides food for healthy gut bacteria. If good bacteria aren’t being fed adequately, it could allow for bad bacteria to flourish – so it’s really important to try to meet your daily recommended fibre quota (25g+).
Although flatulence is part of a normal healthy digestive system (around 5-10 x a day), regular bloating, excessive gas & a foul odour could indicate a food intolerance or presence of bad bacteria in the gut. When excessive gas becomes trapped, it can cause bloating and heartburn. If you’re experiencing this regularly then it could indicate that some dysbiosis is present.
You’re Struggling with bad Skin.
You might not think that your skin outbreak is related to your gut health – but there is a good chance it is having an effect. Our gut microbiome play an important role in regulating our immune system (~70% of our immune cells are located in the GI tract!), so when there is an imbalance it can manifest as a skin flare up such as eczema, rosacea and acne. If you’re experiencing skin outbreaks alongside other digestive symptoms, then you might want to consider focusing on your gut health.
Chronic stress causes a host of issues in the body. Due to the gut:brain axis, the gut microbiome is negatively affected too during periods of ongoing stress & fatigue. When we’re stressed – both mentally & physically – our autonomic & circulatory system carries distress signals to our gut and sparks an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can allow for pathogenic bacteria to thrive & lead to conditions such as IBS, mood disorders and immune dysfunction. So if you’re going through a particularly stressful period, it could be a good idea to show your gut microbiome some love.
You’re getting sick regularly.
If you’re struggling to stave off colds, flus or other bugs going around then it could indicate some sort of gut disruption. Our gut microbiome plays an important role in immune regulation so if you’re frequently ill and experiencing other digestive symptoms, then looking to support beneficial bacteria might be a good step. Note: it might also be good to chat to your GP!
the 5 best ways to support gut health.
1) Fibre! Eating more fibre is the best way to support a happy gut microbiome. It helps increase digestive transit time, bulks stools and feeds beneficial gut bacteria – which in turn prevents bad bacteria from proliferating. Try to work towards incorporating 30 x different plant foods per-week – that includes fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, beans, pulses and lentils. It’s recommended that you eat 25g+ per day, but there is certainly no limit.
Note: If you don’t eat much fibre, increase your intake slowly to give your digestive system a chance to adjust. It’s normal to experience a bit of bloating & gas when upping your fibre intake.
2) Stay hydrated! Aim for 2-3 litres of water per-day! It’s a super easy way to support good digestion by keeping food moving through through the bowel, preventing constipation and helping with detoxification and absorption. This in turn supports a healthy gut microbiome and nutrient absorption.
3) Consume prebiotic & probiotic foods! Prebiotics are a source of food for beneficial gut bacteria, find them in foods such as leeks, dandelion, artichoke, apples, carrots, seeds, oats and garlic. Probiotics are live yeasts/bacteria that we can eat to support a healthy colonies in the microbiome, find them in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and live yoghurt.
4) Reduce Stress! Easier said than done we know! But try to incorporate (even 5 minutes) of relaxation & mindfulness per-day – by taking time for yourself every day, it can make a world of good when it comes to stress levels. Spending time in nature, going for a walk & run and getting fresh air is another easy first step to reducing stress levels – just taking time to prioritise your wellbeing!
5) Exercise! Whatever form of exercise you most enjoy, daily movement (especially as so many of us are sitting at a desk all day) is so important for overall and digestive health. Moderate exercise exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, helps reduce stress, improves body composition and increases blood & nutrient flow to organs and muscles. This in turn supports a healthy digestive system and a happy gut microbiome.
Gut Health is a journey, not a destination!
Our gut microbiome changes daily, so it’s important to see your digestive health as a continuous journey rather than a destination. Maintaining healthy habits is for life! At Lifebox we understand the importance of a healthy gut so you’ll always find brands & products in our boxes that support gut health.
In our July Box, you’ll find the incredible Bio&Me Gluten-Free Granola developed by The Gut Health Doctor Megan Rossi – rich in dietary fibre and prebiotics, this granola is a fantastic way to tick off those plant points. Earn your plant points with a delicious gut goodness recipe – Bio&Me Granola Topped Baked Peaches!
You’ll also find the amazing Gut Stuff Bars that contain a huge 10g of fibre per-bar – that’s 1/3 of your recommended daily intake.
Plus much much more. Find out what else is in the box here!
To get your hands on our July Box Half Price (that’s just £11.97) and start supporting your gut health one step at a time click below: