This article first appeared published on Kidspot as part of my nomination as one of their Voices of 2014 Top 5 Beauty + Lifestyle bloggers.
I’m always on the hunt for small tweaks that will have a big impact on my health and wellbeing. Things that I can do immediately and that I don’t need to fork out a whole lot of my hard earned for. But most importantly, I want changes that are easy to stick with today, tomorrow and forever.
About six months ago, I learnt about the holy grail of small changes and have never felt better. It’s called loving your guts. And no, not in a Kardashian way! I’m talking about looking after your gut health. Good digestive health is the cornerstone of optimal health and is the most important thing you can do to live well.
Why Gut Health Matters
Your gut is home to tens of trillions of bacteria. Some are ‘bad’ (causing digestive stress) and some are ‘good’ (controlling the bad bacteria). When the micro biome is thrown out it can decrease your energy levels; negatively impact on metabolism, immunity and brain health, effect exercise performance and give rise to a whole stack of long-term health benefits. I guess Hippocrates was well ahead of his time, when over 2,000 years ago he said ‘All disease begins in the gut.’
What Contributes To Unhealthy Gut Flora?
Much of our busy, modern lifestyles wrecks havoc on the balance of bacteria in our guts. I’m sure you can probably guess the main culprits, but they include:
- Antibiotics, vaccinations and other medications like birth control
- Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Diets low in fermentable fibres
- Antibacterial soap
- Chronic stress
- Chronic infections
3 Steps to a Healthy Gut (and Healthy Body)
The good news is that rebalancing your gut flora and reseeding it with beneficial bacteria is a cinch. Using the three R’s – Remove, Repair, Restore – it’s easy to take control of your health.
Start by getting rid of the food and toxins that stress your system and sustain unhealthy bacteria. This means limiting sugar, processed foods, animal fats and animal protein. In fact, did you know that 80 per cent of all the antibiotics produced are used in agriculture? Scary, hey?! So try and feed your family organic meat as often as you can.
To begin to repair your gut and heal damaged intestinal lining, eat a fibre-rich, wholefoods diet and make sure you’re getting stuck into heaps of beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, all of which feed good bacteria.
If you’re looking for a little cooking inspiration and recipes that tick all these boxes, check out some of my favourite websites, including:
To help restore your gut flora, there are some simple steps you can take:
- Take a high quality, multi-species probiotic which will provide live strains of good bacteria and help bolster your defences.
- Consume prebiotics daily in the form of fermented food like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Or why not sip on kefir or kombucha? All of these options will help feed friendly bacteria and allow them to thrive in a healthy environment. If you’re looking for some more info on fermented foods, a great place to start is to check out Sandor Katz. I took part in some of his workshops earlier this year and he is definitely the guru of all things fermented!
- Consider taking quality fish oil to help reduce inflammation of your gut. If you can stand the taste, liquid rather than capsule is best.
- Include lots of PH balancing or alkaline foods in your diet. Kale, spinach, broccoli, wheatgrass, parsley, spirulina…basically anything green gets the thumbs up and is great at keeping stomach acid levels in order.
What small changes have you made that have had a big impact on your health and wellness?