How often to you trust your gut feeling?
That subconscious niggle that points you in a certain direction, for no apparent reason. I’ve learnt to do this over the years, to go with my intuition and trust that little voice inside my head. Turns out, it’s usually right!
At times we can all be guilty of “over thinking” a situation, complicating an issue with indecision. There is something wonderfully liberating about adopting a little spontaneity into our everyday lives. Sometimes not knowing the outcome is the fun part and it certainly makes the journey exciting.
Gut feelings can also be really useful when it comes to your health. Listening to your body’s subtle signals can help you give it what it needs. Pay attention to cravings, tiredness, thirst, pain etc, consider them as little messages to tweak your habits.
Gut health is also very important and can have a huge impact on our general wellbeing. Apart from feeling uncomfortable and bloated, poor gut health can lead to an impaired immune system. What we put into our stomachs is so important as it has such a strong effect on how well we feel.
Did you know that your gastrointestinal tract is loaded with neurons that release the same neurotransmitters found in the brain? No surprise then, that any upset in that area can strongly affect your body and mood!
Our systems are all different and we each have our own sensitivities so listen carefully to what works for you. Below are some tips that might help keep your tummy happy:
Probiotics provide live strains of good bacteria to help strengthen your defenses. They keep the lining of the colon healthy and may improve gut motility. Try including some of the following foods in your diet:
- Yogurt – make sure the label says “live cultures” or something similar. Lean towards low sugar and natural flavourings.
- Pickles/Sauerkraut – choose unpasteurised varieties to ensure the health promoting bacteria hasn’t been destroyed.
- Kombucha – this fermented black tea is believed to boost energy and enhance wellbeing.
- Miso Soup – commonly used as a digestive regulator it is a paste made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley. Add a tablespoon of miso to some hot water for an excellent, quick, probiotic-rich soup. Feel free to throw in some chopped spring onions, dried seaweed and tofu for a bit more bite.
Be aware that the probiotic market is unregulated so we have to trust that supplements contain live cultures which remain active throughout the shelf life. The best answer is to try a product and see how you feel. If it doesn’t suit you, try another to find the right one for your body.
Prebiotics help to feed healthy bacteria and allow them to thrive. Probiotic rich foods include; asparagus, banana, onion, garlic, cabbage, beans, legumes (think chickpeas & lentils), apples, the list goes on.
Mint promotes digestion and helps to sooth inflammation and relax stomach muscles. Peppermint tea or mint leaves added to savoury and fruit salads are great ways to get your dose.
Cinnamon gives us a double whammy by helping to improve digestion and balancing blood sugar levels. I love a sprinkling on my morning porridge but it’s a hugely versatile spice and can be added to many dishes. Try some cinnamon toast for a warming treat!
Not only will fibre help you feel fuller for longer but it acts as nature’s sweeping brush, helping to move food through your system. Bananas, apples, root veg, nuts, seeds and wholemeal bread are all good sources of fibre. A spoonful of chia seeds is a lovely addition to a smoothie or salad.
Exercise reduces stress levels which can play havoc with our hormones and, in turn, our intestinal flora. Movement can also help with bloating by reducing gas and discomfort. Of course, exercise will also help with weight management which reduces belly fat and pressure on the stomach. Yoga, in particular, is wonderful for distressing and boosting digestive health. Your tummy will definitely feel the difference!
Yes, it does seem to be good for everything but drinking enough water every day (minimum 2L) will help eliminate toxins, generally making you feel more comfortable and boosting energy levels. Starting the day with a glass of warm water with lemon is a great way to wake up your digestive system.
We know that whole foods or clean eating is the healthier choice but sugars and refined carbohydrates really feed the growth of yeast like Candida and other bad bacteria in the digestive tract. This is bad news for our gut health so remember to keep the naughty stuff for treats and stock up on fresh foods.
Why not take some of these tips on board for a happy tummy and listen to your gut more often, you never know what great places it could take you :)