There isn’t a quick fix for optimal gut health.
You can go down the road of supplements, but that can take a few months to start feeling the full benefits.
But there are some other, very simple, things worth doing often and regularly to promote good gut health.
The gut-to-brain connection is real, so it’s worth taking care of your insides for both your physical and emotional state of being.
Miguel Mateas, a nutritionist, clinical neuroscientist for Poo-Pourri, says starting with the basics can kick start the journey to a better gut.
Get in touch with the soil
Gardening, though often thought of as a mindful activity, can actually help your gut too.
‘The microbes in our environment influence those in our gut,’ Miguel says.
‘The richest source of bacteria is soil, which is why direct contact with it can
help with the diversity of your gut bacteria.
‘Ideal activities include gardening, pottering about in your allotment, or engaging in growing your own veg, even if it’s just a few pots in your balcony.’
We all know to aim for at least five a day, but it’s also good to switch up which five you go for, rather than reaching for the same go-tos over and over.
Miguel says: ‘Most brightly coloured fruit and vegetables are available during late summer, so why not make the most of that and feed your gut a rainbow every day?
‘Aim for two new pieces fruit every day without repeating them again for a week.
‘That’ll make your gut closer to that of the Hadza, tribe in Tanzania, one of the few remaining groups of hunter-gatherer in the world, who enjoy the highest diversity of gut bugs of any human populations living today, as well as the really low levels of disease.’
The power of essential oils
Essential oils have been shown to ease feelings of anxiety and help with concentration.
Anxiety is important to tame when it comes to gut health, as it can affect the way the gut bacteria works.
‘Anxiety has a strong effect on the gut, and ultimately the bowel. Anxiety can both speed up and slow down intestinal movements.
‘The strong aromatic smell of lemon essential oil helps to promote concentration and also helps to calm the mind down when its feeling anxious or stressed,’ he adds.
Along with eating well, eating spicy has a particularly positive impact.
‘Did you know that spices such as turmeric, ginger, and black pepper have the ability to support your digestion and improve your nutrient absorption?’ asks Miguel.
‘Not only that, herbs like basil, coriander, rosemary or sage help keep opportunistic bugs from overstaying in your gut.
‘So when you think about a rainbow with your food, make sure you include culinary herbs and spices in it.’
Due to the gut-mind connection, both can impact upon each other – health in one area is important to maintaining the health of the other.
‘The gut and the brain are constantly chatting to each other. Just as what you eat affects your mood, what thoughts you have affect your gut,’ says Miguel.
‘Engaging in a few minutes of mindfulness meditation daily has been shown to regulate the stress response, which helps dampen down inflammation throughout your body and to maintain a healthy gut-barrier function, which is essential for long-lasting mental wellbeing.’
You might be tired of hearing this health tip, but how proactive are you about keeping hydrated?
If you need more motivation to drink more water, Miguel says: ‘Your gut lining is enveloped in a thin mucous layer. This is where many of the beneficial bacteria
that help you stay healthy and happy live.
‘As just one example, being even slightly dehydrated has a major impact on this layer because it loses its suppleness and its ability to feed gut bugs like Akkermansia, which regulate your appetite and metabolism, helping control your blood sugar levels.
‘Water, herbal tea, and cold herbal infusions like a twig of rosemary or some fresh mint in cold water, are ideal ways to keep your gut hydrated, and your gut bugs happy and well fed.’