So here is the second part of my healthy habits for a happy gut post. In part 1, I talked about the importance of drinking enough drinking water, of eating a plant centric diet with lots of fibre, managing your stress and slowing down around eating. I also mentioned how important our posture is and that eating at a table really helps with digestion.
In part 2 we are going to look at 4 more healthy habits. Let’s start with movement.
Research is limited but the is some evidence that exercise can improve the diversity of our gut microbes. But beware of over exercising – really strenuous exercise such as running a marathon can lead to gut problems and something called leaky gut. Moderate exercise increases blood flow to the muscles in the digestive system which massages our food along the digestive tract – a mechanism known as peristalsis. This keeps things moving along nicely so we don’t get constipated or bloated.
So try to do some kind of movement everyday – walking, , yoga, pilates, a HIIT class – find what you enjoy and do it consistently. If you find consistency a challenge, buddy up with a friend or get yourself a personal trainer to provide encouragement, accountability and support.
2.Start your day in positive way
Drink water, do something active like 10 minutes of yoga or a short walk, practice gratitude and listen to your body! Tune into your body’s hunger signals and eat breakfast when you feel hungry. This may mean you have to take something to work with you such as an oat and chia seed pot or a smoothie – I will share some ideas and recipes in another post. This will help your body feel settled and calm and will support good digestion. Starting your day in a rush with feelings of stress can lead to poor decision making when it comes to food. Stress has a negative impact on our gut health. You might not notice at first but it will catch up with you. Preparation is key if your morning schedule is tight.
3. Eat prebiotic and probiotic foods
In part 1 I talked about eating a plant centric diet. A plant centric diet has lots of fibre and what are known as prebiotics. Prebiotics are a class of nutrients called oligosaccharides (a type of fibre) which pass through the upper or first part of the gut undigested to feed and stimulate the growth of microbes further down our intestinal systems. Prebiotic foods include asparagus, under ripe bananas, aubergine, endive/chicory, garlic, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes and pulses (beans, peas and lentils). If you’re eating a plant centric diet then you are probably getting enough prebiotics in your diet.
Probiotic foods include fermented dairy products such as bio live plain yoghurt, kefir and aged cheese. Non-dairy fermented products include kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh which is made from fermented soybeans. If you aren’t used to eating foods like this, go easy when starting to as they can have a fairly strong impact on your gut and maybe not in the way you want!
Probiotics are live micro-organisms which when consumed in adequate in adequate amounts confer a health effect on the host. Probiotics are sometimes taken in the form of supplements but it is worth bearing in mind that the probiotic industry isn’t regulated so there are a lot of very poor quality products out there. If you don’t think you have a healthy gut seek help before spending a load of money on supplements.
Sleep is when our body repairs and heals. Stress, sleep and our gut health are interlinked. Stress makes us sleep badly, which leads many people to eat badly the next day which in turn impacts on our gut health. Poor gut health can impact our sleep so it becomes something of a vicious circle. When we aren’t getting enough sleep, our gut in unlikely to be in great shape however good our diet is. Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night and manage your stress – see my previous blog here.
There is a lot in the media about sleep and I sure you have your own ideas about what works best for you. I always recommend my clients stick to a routine of a pre-bed ritual of dimming the lights and putting technology away at least an hour before bed. Going to bed and waking at the same time every day is also important. Make sure your bedroom is a cool, dark and quiet place to sleep. I wear an eye mask and ear plugs. I also suggest getting some exercise in preferably in the morning and just before bed, writing down three good things that happened that day. This also is an opportunity to brain dump anything that is on your mind such as the “to do” list for the next day. A busy mind is often the thing that keeps me awake in the small hours!
My name is Amanda and I am a women’s health and fitness coach. I help women thrive through menopause and beyond! If you would like to feel happier and healthier and reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease such as osteoporosis, dementia, heart disease or type 2 diabetes then my bespoke health coaching programs can help you. I work with you and provide encouragement, support, accountability as well some information. Contact me here if you would like to know more or book a free 30 minute Discovery call here.