By now, many of us know that we need to look after our gut health! The question is how – there’s so much information out there and much of it is conflicting. Take this, don’t take that, eat this, no wait that’s bad for you, do this, no that’s bad too! It’s no wonder we are confused.
Let’s start with diet – there is no one size fits all answer to this. Wholefoods work for some, paleo works for others. I personally find that low carb high fat, or keto, works best for me. It helps to get professional advice, but learn to listen to your gut – it will tell you if it’s unhappy with what you are feeding it. The gut is now viewed as a brain without conscious bias, so it often knows what the mind doesn’t. Do you have gas, bloating, reflux, constipation or diarrhoea? Your body is telling you something – what is it? I often find in clinic that regular dietary culprits are gluten, dairy, sugar, coffee and alcohol. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, these are inflammatory foods, which can have other effects on health. Processed food is universally recognised as not in your best interests. Have an honest look at your diet and make good choices, see how that goes, learn and improve from there.
Gut bacteria is a hot topic well worthy of a blog of its own. The simple version is that probiotics are very beneficial. The gut has many colonies of bacteria to support our digestive process, and when all the colonies are in proper balance, our gut is happy. When we feed our body suboptimal food, don’t drink enough water, or drink other drinks that affect the bacteria, that is when we’ll find issues with the balance of bacteria. Probiotics are of great help, and there’s lots of research about the benefits of probiotics, and certain strains of bacteria for conditions. Kombucha, kefir and fermented foods are great natural probiotic choices, as well as unsweetened yoghurt, especially if you make your own!
In conjunction with physical measures, you also need to look after your mind. With all the research on the gut-brain connection, it’s never been more important to look after your mind to help your gut. I often see people who worry or stress a lot, or people who are prone to overthinking and overanalysing, that have gut health issues. Chinese medicine has recognised this connection for hundreds of years. Firstly, reduce the amount of time you spend on technology and increase the amount of time you spend in nature, with people, or with yourself. Discover mindfulness, meditation, yoga or even colouring books. Take nice relaxing gentle walks. Your mind and your gut will thank you!
The answer is that good gut health requires a proper mind-body approach, and it also requires you to listen to your body. Your body gives you signals about what makes it happy and what doesn’t – you owe it to yourself to listen!
Alice Bullivant - KinesiAlice
Mind Body Medicine therapist
Integrative Complementary Medicine therapist
0425 268 167