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Tips for a healthy gut in 2018
I can not believe that we are almost at the end of January already. This month really feels like its flown by, we have been so busy writing a bucket list, visiting Scotland and starting our Castle ABC Challenge. To be honest to date I am quite impressed with how much we have actually fitted in. I find this list ticking easier to achieve than New Years resolutions, which invariably I end up not sticking to. Apparently I am not alone, research shows that 80% of resolutions fail by February*. This high failure rate may be an indication that many of us set goals that are too difficult to keep, or set too many to keep track of!
That doesn’t surprise me. Having a list means it helps me to keep track and cross off when I have done the thing I wanted to. One of the things on my list this year is to take better care of myself. Which is why I was interested in some new research from ProVen Probiotics shows that more than half of Brits have poor gut health, which is affecting their weight (41%), mood (49%), confidence (42%) and eating decisions (49%)**
Your gut is responsible for your overall wellbeing, both the digestive and immune systems rely heavily on it. With that in mind Consultant Dietitian, Helen Bond, gives her top tips on how to keep your gut healthy this New Year.
Give your gut bacteria a boost:
“The knock on effects of Christmas and New Year celebrations, such as too much stress, too many late nights and partying, can put your gut bacteria out of balance, allowing the less desirable types of gut bacteria such as Clostridium difficile and E. Coli to increase. The upshot could be reduced immunity, making you more susceptible to the winter bugs you might otherwise be able to fight off. However, you can improve your microflora with probiotics, which are friendly strains of gut bacteria. You can boost your level of probiotics with yogurt or drinks, fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut, and fermented milk drinks, like kefir. You could also take a high quality probiotic supplement, like ProVen Probiotics Adult Acidophilus and Bifidus – 25 billion. The richer and more diverse the microflora in your gut, the healthier and more resilient to illness you will be – so it’s in your best interests to take action to keep your bacteria in fighting form.”
Forget faddy diets:
“No matter how ‘in-vogue’ food intolerances might seem, avoid cutting out major food groups like carbs, unless you have specifically been advised to do so by a doctor or a dietitian. Faddy diets are not sustainable in the long term and often deprive our bodies of some of the nutrients we need to keep our microbiome and digestive health in good shape.
Enjoy a healthy breakfast:
“Skipping breakfast is a sure-fire way to leave you with a grumbling mid-morning tummy and will do your digestive health no favours! Just like us, our gut microflora needs feeding, so always make time to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Skip the croissants and pain au chocolat, and instead have a bowl of warming porridge that is rich in prebiotic oats, or have a couple of slices of wholegrain toast, with some vitamin D rich scrambled eggs.”
Fill up on fibre:
“Eating plenty of high-fibre foods like wholegrain breakfast cereals and bread, whole-wheat pasta and couscous, bulgur wheat, brown rice and ancient grains like quinoa, amaranth, barley and buckwheat help to fill us up. Bacteria in the gut also breaks down fibre to produce essential fatty acids, which give us energy and encourages a healthy gut bacteria balance. But remember, the fibre in your diet also absorbs water during digestion, so be vigilant about your fluid intake as you increase the fibre content of your diet.”
Keep sweets as treats:
“With all the tasty snacks lying round after the Christmas festivities, it’s easy to over-indulge, giving your digestive system an extra work out. Stock up on healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, dried and seasonal fresh fruit such as clementine’s; a medium clementine has just 25 kcals and will provide you 31% of your daily needs for immune boosting vitamin C and 1g of gut healthy fibre.”
“It’s important to eat the right food to keep your gut healthy, but you also need to make sure you are taking on board enough fluid to keep it working properly. Like vitamins and minerals, our fluid needs are individual. The amount of fluid that we need differs by what we eat, where we live, what we are doing and how big and tall we are – but a good rule of thumb is about 2 litres (eight to ten glasses a day). If you are drinking enough, your urine should be pale and straw coloured. Although water is the best drink to stay refreshed, other fluids like milk, fruit juice, tea and coffee still count.”
Rethink the way you drink in 2018:
“While one glass of white wine might not cause a digestive upset, alcohol acts an irritant in the gut and is dehydrating, so drinking too much won’t help you feel at your best. Limit alcohol intake to no more than two units per day and have at least two alcohol free days a week.”
“Reducing our stress levels can have a positive impact on our gut health. Even mild stress can tip our gut bacteria out of whack, making us feel lethargic, lacking in energy, and potentially more vulnerable to infection. Take up stress reducing activities such as meditation, reading, exercising, and listening to music. And ensure that you get a good night’s sleep – adults need about 8 hours a night and children need more!.”