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Gut Health 101 - the basics

Written by: Ellie Bilsland 09 June 2022

Gut Health 101

Over the last few years, there has been a huge surge in gut health across all areas of life: from books + podcasts to your favourite brands adding ‘gut health’ claims on packaging. Though the term gut health is more widely used, for many there are still question marks about what gut health actually means. I hope the following is a useful breakdown:

What is gut health?

Gut health refers to your digestive system - also known as your gastrointestinal (GI) tract – and the balance of bacteria in your gut (also known as your gut microbiome).

Why is gut health important?

Our gut digests food, is home to a range of (good) bacteria, absorbs energy and nutrients, and gets rid of waste products. 

There is also a well researched link between your gut and your mental health, known as the gut-brain axis. That is, when one of them isn’t on top form, the other is impacted too. So, you can see why it’s important to be looked after!

How do we impact our gut health?

There are many factors that impact our gut health: diet, stress, hormones, exercise, sleep etc., but diet is one of the biggest influences. The best advice I can give is to eat whole-foods. By whole-foods, I mean foods that don’t have a long ingredients list. Once you start looking at these ingredients lists, you will notice a host of stabilisers, regulators, preservatives etc., that wreak havoc on our gut health. Limiting these and opting for foods where the ingredients list is small, is a very easy and powerful way to improve your gut health. Alongside this, it’s super important to make sure you’re opting for a variety of whole-foods, that is mixing up the fruits, vegetables, fats and proteins you eat every week. A more diverse diet helps bloom a more diverse gut microbiome; a simple way to tackle this is to try and get as many different colours on your plate as possible!

BUT...

Remember that it might take your gut time to get used to these new foods, or this increase in diversity, so make changes slowly to give your body time to adjust. 

Although these changes are important, balance is the most important. A diet rich in whole-foods is not supposed to be restrictive or limiting.

Everyone’s gut is different, and even your own can vary day to day (depending on levels of stress, hormones, exercise etc.,). It is crucial for you to be in tune with your gut. Take notice when it feels unsettled - is this triggered by certain foods? Or stress? What helps make it feel better? Some easy tips to try are gentle exercise or Peppermint tea - hello, Focus! Tracking will make it easier for you to keep a consistently happy gut, so nothing can hold you back!

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