Spring has sprung – time to spring clean our bodies as well as our homes

Spring cleaning our body begins with our gut – here are some key steps to ensuring your digestive system is raring to go.

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Increase your fibre

Fibre from vegetables, fruits and other plant-based foods can help to support a number of gut functions, including regulating bowel action, speeding up transit time, helping us to feel fuller for longer and supporting stool consistency.

Manage your stress levels

Stress is not just mental, but also physical. It is affected by what we think, what we eat, what we do, how we feel and the toxins we absorb. A poor diet can affect stress, as can exercising too much, not sleeping enough or worrying too much. And too much stress affects stomach acid and digestive enzyme production, gut motility, intestinal barrier function and the composition of the gut bacteria.

Stress management techniques include relaxation (improved sleep, deep breathing, meditation, yoga), moderate exercise, a healthy diet and social support.

Get good quality sleep

Science is increasingly showing that sleep can affect our gut (and our gut can affect sleep). Our bodies are designed to a particular circadian rhythm, which requires a specific pattern of sleep and wake time, and this rhythm helps to keep both us and our bacteria happy.

Ensure you are hydrated at all times

Make sure you drink enough water every day – the optimum amount will vary for each of us, but aim for at least 1.5-2 litres. Dehydration is the main cause of constipation and water helps to keep the food you eat moving through your gut, supporting digestion and elimination.

Avoid inflammatory foods

Such as gluten, refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and processed foods, as these foods can cause inflammation throughout the body, affecting the structure and function of the gut and feeding the unfriendly types of bacteria.

Support your microbiome

The bacteria in our intestines perform a number of key functions and maintaining a balance of the right types of bacteria is essential to support this. Friendly bacteria can be found in fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut and can also be taken in supplement form. Feeding these friendly bacteria with specific types of fibre (prebiotics) can also help them to thrive.