‘I’ve got a gut feeling’…… There is more to this phrase than you may think. Dr Michael Gershon rediscovered a network of neurotransmitters in the gut that act in a similar way to ordinary neurons (like in the brain). He called this phenomenon ‘the second brain’ and explained that it controlled gut behaviour, dealing with gut issues independently of our brain. Here’s the really interesting bit: the brain in our heads is often informed about the rest of the body by the ‘brain’ in our gut. So why is this important? Because disturbances in your digestive system are related to a plethora of chronic problems, such as joint pain, skin conditions, sleep issues, mood problems and even autoimmune diseases like motor neurone disease. You can start taking care of your gut by supplementing your diet with some of the following five gut health aids.
- Probiotics – There are trillions of live (good) bacteria (probiotics) cohabiting in your gut. This is a good thing because these little bad boys help to fight infection, reduce cholesterol, manufacture Vitamin B, and detox the intestines to boot! To increase the good bacteria load up on probiotics in tablet form or food form (see below).
- Kefir- A fermented milk drink – full of those all important probiotics. It tastes a bit like drinkable yogurt – kefir is full of calcium and probiotics. While kefir is dairy derived, it is low in lactose so should be fine if you are lactose intolerant. However there are also some great coconut kefirs on the market.
- Kombucha – is a tangy fermented probiotic drink made with tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast. (Don’t worry, the fermentation process needs sugar as the sugar ferments when combined with yeasts and bacteria) Once fermented and Kombucha is made, it’s benefits include improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.
- Sauerkraut – Made from just cabbage and salt, this fermented food delivers a healthy dose of probiotics and fibre. It has some pretty impressive nutritional benefits, it’s fat-free, a low calorie food, and a good source of fibre, iron and vitamins C and K. As a naturally fermented product, it’s also great probiotic.
- Digestive Enzymes – these help to break down our food. But if we don’t have enough digestive enzymes (which is very common) we can’t break down our food. That means even though we’re eating well, we aren’t absorbing all that good nutrition. So you can see that the importance of digesting your food is not just about enjoying a meal without bloating afterwards.
Here’s a list of some of the probiotics/enzymes I take:
It’s also a good idea to cut down on refined sugar (cakes, sweets etc etc) as gut bacteria loves to feed on it. Remember you gut health is the key to clear mind, skin and energy levels. So, don’t dismiss it!