Embarking on a wellness journey is a deeply personal and enriching experience for every one of us. It's like unwrapping a package of self-discovery, care and a newfound understanding and appreciation for ourselves.
While we often focus on external aspects of wellbeing, we tend to overlook the key inside-out contributor: gut health. The way our gut feels and functions can have a significant impact on our mood, energy levels and even the appearance of our skin.
For those of us who have experienced uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating or irregularity, caring for our gut can make a world of difference in how we feel every day.
Why Is Gut Health Important?
The gut, also known as the digestive tract, stretches from the mouth to the anus and performs a multitude of essential functions. The gut is where digestion happens, breaking down food into nutrients our bodies can absorb and use.
Moreover, the gut is home to trillions of microbes, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These tiny creatures play a vital role in our health, influencing everything from our metabolism to our immune response and emotional wellbeing.
It's a bustling city inside of our bodies, working around the clock to keep us feeling our best. A balanced gut microbiome means a happy and healthy gut.
What Common Issues Can Affect Gut Health?
Occasional disturbances in our gut may feel all too familiar. Many of us have experienced bloating, irregularity or that “off” feeling in our stomachs. These signals can be our body’s way of telling us that something is out of sync in our gut.
While each gut health journey is unique, certain factors can throw our gut microbiome off balance. Stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, hormonal changes and constipation can all play a part in how our gut feels and functions.
It’s important to remember that while these issues are common, they are not something we just have to "live with." There are ways we can support our gut health to better handle these challenges and enhance our overall wellbeing.
Ultimately, it is not about quick fixes or drastic changes but about understanding and caring for our bodies in a kind and sustainable way.
How Can Our Diet Impact Gut Health?
Nourishing our bodies is like fuelling a car; the quality of the fuel can significantly impact the car's performance. Our gut, in particular, is deeply influenced by the foods we eat.
Contrary to what some trendy diets or ‘fads’ may promise, achieving optimal gut health isn't about restriction or elimination of food groups. It's about embracing a balanced, varied diet filled with wholesome foods.
Whole foods — think fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains — are packed full of the nutrients our bodies need to thrive.
They also provide dietary fibre, a crucial element for maintaining a healthy gut. This is because dietary fibre acts as food for our gut bacteria, allowing them to flourish and contribute to a balanced gut microbiome.
Every colourful fruit and vegetable you add to your plate comes with its own unique blend of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all contributing to overall gut health.
While looking for a quick fix for gut issues might be tempting, remember that a balanced and diverse diet, rich in whole foods, is the foundation for a healthy gut and overall wellbeing.
7 Steps To Help Heal Your Gut
Embarking on your gut healing journey is not a one-size-fits-all process, but a few steps can benefit most of us. Understanding how you can address gut health can empower you to choose the best strategies for your unique, holistic wellness journey.
1. Get To Know Your Gut
Understanding your gut begins with understanding your personal experiences. Are there certain foods you may have a sensitivity for that tend to lead to discomfort or bloating? Do you notice changes in your gut when you're stressed or haven't slept well?
Keeping a journal of your meals, sleep patterns, stress levels, and gut health can help you identify potential triggers. Common triggers might include lactose, gluten or high-carb meals, but it varies for each person.
Recognising these correlations is a step toward personalising your approach to gut health, allowing you to make the most supportive decisions for your unique needs.
2. Eat a Balanced, Varied Diet
A balanced diet includes a variety of whole foods, rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fibre, in particular, serves as a food source for your gut microbes, supporting a balanced gut microbiome.
Including a wide range of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats ensures your gut receives a diverse range of nutrients, promoting overall gut health.
3. Practise Mindful Eating
Mindful eating, which involves eating slowly and without distractions, can be a game-changer for your gut. When we eat quickly or while distracted, we might swallow more air, leading to discomfort and bloating.
Additionally, eating too quickly may not give our bodies the time they need to kickstart digestion properly. By eating mindfully, we allow our body time to initiate the digestion process, leading to improved nutrient absorption and potentially less digestive discomfort.
4. Stay Hydrated
Hydration plays a key role in digestion. Water helps break down food, allowing your body to absorb nutrients. It also softens stool, promoting regular bowel movements crucial for maintaining a healthy gut. So, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day, supporting your digestion and overall health.
5. Prioritise Sleep
Sleep and gut health have a bi-directional relationship. Lack of sleep can disrupt your gut microbiome, leading to an imbalance that may result in gut health issues. Conversely, an unhealthy gut may lead to poor sleep.
This is because the gut produces serotonin, an essential hormone for sleep. In fact, 90 percent of our body's serotonin is produced in the gut. We can support our gut health and overall wellbeing by prioritising quality sleep.
6. Nourish Your Gut Microbiome
Teeming with trillions of bacteria and other microbes, this diverse gut microbiome community plays an integral role in your overall health. It influences everything from digestion to immunity and even your mood.
Feeding this microbiome is a two-fold process: it involves both probiotics (the beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (a type of fibre that nourishes these bacteria). Imagine it as a garden: probiotics are the flowers, while prebiotics are the water and nutrients that help them thrive.
You can source probiotics from fermented foods, but supplements can be an effective tool if you want to ensure you're getting a consistent, beneficial dose. Probiotics provide a way to nourish your gut microbiome consistently, acting as a steady helping hand in your journey toward a healthy gut.
7. The Role of Supportive Supplements
While a diet rich in whole foods forms the bedrock of gut health, supplements can act as helpful tools, providing extra support and convenient consistency on your path toward wellness.
For instance, supplements formulated with Fennel, Milk Thistle, and Turmeric to relieve digestive discomfort and support natural body cleansing processes. Fennel has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to soothe digestive discomfort, while Milk Thistle and turmeric have been known to support overall gut health.
The Bottom Line
Just like every wellness journey, the path to better gut health is personal and individual. It's not about finding a quick fix but embracing sustainable practices that nourish and support your gut over time.
From understanding your gut to making dietary adjustments, using nourishing formulas in our JSHealth range, and adopting mindful habits, these steps can guide you on your path toward better gut health.
At the heart of it is the intention of self-care, understanding, and compassion toward your body. Remember, your body is your lifelong partner, and nurturing it is one of the greatest acts of self-love.
So here's to stepping into your gut health journey with an open heart and open mind, celebrating each moment of progress along the way.