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  • Writer's pictureNadia Kettle

The Gut Brain Connection

A healthy gut is the core of our overall health, it determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins and microbes are kept out of the body.

DIGESTION STARTS IN THE MOUTH

To ensure good digestion, it all starts in the mouth. The more you chew the more digestive enzymes are produced which assists in digestion. Chewing thoroughly and slowly also creates satiety as allows more time for the brain to register when you are full. Too often, people rush through their meals which leads to overeating and affects the overall digestion process. Once food arrives in the stomach, it mixes with stomach acid to then break your food down further before it travels through to the small intestine where all the nutrients from our food is absorbed into the body. Any left-over waste is then expelled. Symptoms linked to low stomach acid can be heartburn, acid reflux, gas or burping.


GOOD & BAD BACTERIA

The good guys are busy aiding digestion, helping absorb nutrients and keeping your immune system in check while the bad guys are just being bad, disrupting processes, causing toxins to build up and damaging the gut lining. We need a balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut however – modern lifestyles, including excessive stress and the use of antibiotics and especially poor-quality modern diets that are high in processed foods, put pressure on this balance and can allow bad bacteria and funguses like candida to dominate the scene. Once there is an imbalance of bad bacteria there is more chance of developing Leaky Gut – this occurs when our gut lining becomes damaged and less efficient as a barrier between your digestive system and the rest of your body. Larger molecules can start to pass through and into your bloodstream where they are recognised as foreign bodies by the immune system which basically causes your body to start fighting itself.


SYMPTOMS OF IMBALANCE

There are loads of symptoms of imbalanced gut bacteria such as bloating, gas, loose bowels, constipation, skin issues such as acne, eczema, rashes, thrush or itchy skin and chronic inflammation which then leads to IBS, sore joints, arthritis, weight gain, indigestion, candida and leaky gut syndrome – all of which we want to avoid.


FOODS THAT INTERFERE WITH GUT BACTERIA

Processed foods, too much red meat, takeaways etc. Allergens such as dairy, especially cows milk, sugar is high on the list as causes inflammation in the body alongside alcohol! Gluten or wheat is another huge cause of inflammation, main sources include bread, cereals, cakes, biscuits and crackers but also hiding in sausages, bottled sauces etc. Try and eat these foods on the odd occasion if not at all.


Red meat is highly acidic so ensure you eat plenty of alkaline vegetables alongside it. Avoid refined oils such as soybean or canola oil. This change alone will make a huge different to inflammation in your gut. As a rule, use extra light olive oil or coconut oil for cooking at a high heat or extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings. Antibiotics – something we can’t always avoid but be mindful of your gut bacteria at the end of a course of antibiotics, always follow up with a course of probiotics especially if you have symptoms of thrush or diarrhoea.


HOW CAN WE INCREASE GOOD BACTERIA

Eat wholefoods! A diet low in sugar, alcohol, gluten and processed foods will feed your gut with all of the good guys, Eat plenty of prebiotic foods such as garlic, onion, asparagus, leeks, apples, green bananas and plenty of probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented veges, miso soup or bone broth!


GUT FRIENDLY TIPS

Reduce your stress!! Serotonin (the happy hormone) is made in the gut, so if you’re struggling with stress or low mood, your digestion will be compromised. Add more fibre to your meals, eg. 1-2 tbsp chia seeds or ground flaxseeds to smoothies, porridge, yoghurt or baking and eat plenty of leafy greens (ideally with every main meal). Try adding 1-2tbsp ACV to your water bottle and sip throughout the day, this helps to increase stomach acid when then helps with digestion. Purchase a good greens powder such as the Good Green Vitality, Barley Grass or Wheat Grass to help alkalise your body, balancing your pH levels. Especially good as an afternoon pick me up or before a Christmas do! Aim to eat at least 80% of wholefoods for balanced gut bacteria, better mental and physical health, increased energy, weight loss and general well-being. A healthy belly contributes to a healthy and happy life!!


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