Supporting your gut health is key to transforming your overall health and wellbeing. Good gut health is linked to everything from supporting your immunity and better skin health, to better mood and, of course, combatting niggling gut symptoms.
Five reasons why it’s important to look after your gut:
Digestive symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhoea, acid reflux, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome are common but, in excess, are not normal or something you have to live with. And popping a pill will only mask annoying symptoms temporarily.
As a nutritionist, I apply the 5R protocol (based on Functional Medicine) in my online clinic to determine what might be causing your symptoms.
This takes you on a clear 5-step gut healing journey where we: rethink, replace, repair, replenish and rebalance your gut.
To find out more, check out my upcoming 5-week online group programme: “Ease your Gut: Beat the Bloat”, starting on 5th March.
Prefer to get to the heart of the issue straight away? You'll find out more about my 90-Day 1-2-1 Gut Health Programme here.
2. Female intimate health
The vagina and bladder have their own distinct bacteria and yeasts. Imbalances in these can cause issues such as thrush, bacterial vaginosis, and general itching and discomfort in the vagina, and increase the risk of issues such as recurring urinary tract infections or cystitis, an overactive bladder, and interstitial cystitis in the bladder.
When considering bladder and vaginal health, it is particularly important to consider cross-contamination by our gut bacteria, especially if we have digestive symptoms or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you experience recurring vaginal or bladder symptoms despite getting the all clear from your doctor, supporting your gut health could be an important step in resolving these issues.
3. Inflammation and pain
Poor gut health could lead to systemic inflammation due to “leaky gut” or “gut permeability”. This may affect people differently: for some this could be achy, inflamed joints, for others it could be brain fog and an inability to think clearly.
A huge chunk of our immune system resides in the gut (approximately 80%!). Ensuring a healthy digestive system helps support the immune system and reduces our risk of food sensitivities.
Poor gut-immune health can also increase the risk of skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, hives and acne due to a “leaky gut” and inflammation.
Making certain dietary changes to support a healthy gut lining reduces the risk of “leaky gut” and supports a balanced immune system. This is one of the key areas we cover in detail on my Ease your Gut, Beat the Bloat online group programme.
5. Mood and mental wellbeing
Our gut bacteria help make neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that regulate our mood. High stress interferes with our body’s ability to process food properly and interferes with this gut-brain communication.
During my 5-week online group programme, I share my top tips on how to support this gut-brain communication and introduce you to diet and lifestyle tips that will reduce the negative impact of stress on your gut.
Find out more about the Ease your Gut, Beat the Bloat online programme here. We're kicking things off on Friday 5th March.
People often ask me how to get more probiotic rich foods into their diet? Despite the best of intentions, many people struggle to find easy ways to eat fermented probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi on a regular basis. And I totally understand, it can be a bit alien at first!
If you struggle to eat fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut regularly you're going to love my probiotic rich soup, it's my interpretation of Ribollita.
Ribollita’s depth of flavour is largely thanks to the rind of parmesan chucked in to add a unique moreish flavour. Not only does this bring amazing umami, the soup is served with a glorious grating of probiotic rich parmesan cheese.
Did you know, eating Parmesan cheese can be a simple and effective way to bring probiotic bacteria into your diet, even surviving stomach acid?!! These friendly probiotic bacteria influence our emotions and our brain chemistry as well as supporting our gut health.
This probiotic benefit doesn’t apply to all cheese however. Most cheese we see in the supermarket is pasteurised which means the bacteria have been killed off during the processing.
Parmesan cheese is made from unpasteurised milk so the “good” bacteria from the cow are preserved as they pass all the way through the food chain reaching our table as parmesan cheese. It’s crazy but it’s true! If you’re interested in finding out more about the probiotic content (and bacterial journey) of parmesan, check out this cool study.
The researchers in this study suggest eating Parmesan cheese weekly to support the optimal levels of the bacteria in the gut. Here are a few ways to eat probiotic parmesan:
Can you think of any others?
But isn’t dairy bad for you?
Too much dairy can be pro-inflammatory but small amounts of dairy including fermented dairy such as kefir and parmesan have shown to have many health benefits. For instance, the EPIC study shows that the calcium in dairy products specifically may be protective to the gut in colorectal cancer.
This study on traditionally made kefir, is a great introduction to the health benefits of kefir.
If you eat dairy, I recommend choosing fermented dairy products where possible so you experience the added benefits of probiotics. This includes:
Interested in making your own fermented foods? Check out the videos in my Facebook Group, The Gut Health Club. You’ll find them saved under “units”.
Get the recipe for my probiotic ribollita soup here.
Firstly, what is a probiotic?
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that can promote health in the host they reside in (you!)
What are probiotic supplements and when are they used?
Probiotic supplements are capsules and powders containing researched strains of bacteria that confer a health benefit and are proven to reach the gut alive. They usually contain a mix of commonly researched bacteria like L-acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.
Probiotic supplements can be used to support a specific health outcome.
Many people consume probiotics in supplement form to achieve specific health outcomes. For example:
So as you can see, not all probiotics are the same. This is why I would really recommend consulting a nutritional therapist first before blindly popping pills but here’s a rough guide to what to look for in a probiotic supplement.
Plant based sweetener
Glycaemic Index GI
Grow It Yourself (GIY)
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