Gut in­stinct

Liz Con­nor gets some tips on main­tain­ing a healthy tum­myt

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - This Week -

OVER the past few years, gut health has be­come a hot topic in sci­en­tific re­search, and stud­ies have shown just how im­por­tant main­tain­ing a healthy di­ges­tive sys­tem can be — not just for phys­i­cal health, but for our men­tal well­be­ing too.

Poor gut health has been linked to a num­ber of is­sues rang­ing from obesity and di­a­betes to rheuma­toid arthri­tis, ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, and de­pres­sion. Ex­perts are dub­bing the area the body’s ‘sec­ond brain’, be­liev­ing mi­crobes and nerves in your di­ges­tive tract can ef­fec­tively al­ter ev­ery­thing from hunger pangs to your mood.

If you’ve been feel­ing ‘off’ re­cently, your in­har­mo­nious gut flora could be to blame, but with 100tn bac­te­ria living in your gut — both ben­e­fi­cial and path­o­genic — main­tain­ing the ideal bal­ance can be tricky.

We asked Liz Earle, au­thor of The Good Gut Guide, to share her top tips for keep­ing your di­ges­tive sys­tem in good shape.

1. Take a daily pro­bi­otic: “Although it won’t undo an unhealthy diet, tak­ing a multi-strain pro­bi­otic each day (ide­ally one that in­cludes at least eight dif­fer­ent strains) is a use­ful in­sur­ance pol­icy, along­side a diet filled with fresh and fer­mented foods. It can also help speed up the tran­sit time of food and waste mat­ter pass­ing through your body, eas­ing and reg­u­lat­ing bowel move­ments.”

2. Drink fer­mented bev­er­ages: “Why not wash down your pro­bi­otics with a zingy kom­bucha shot or a glass of milk ke­fir? I start my day with a glass of ke­fir — a live yo­ghurt drink packed with pow­er­fully ben­e­fi­cial pro­bi­otics, and I find this gives me a real boost in the morn­ing and has made a huge dif­fer­ence to my over­all health and well­be­ing.

“I make my own ke­fir at home us­ing ke­fir grains and cow’s milk, although you can use co­conut milk, co­conut wa­ter or any other nut ‘milks’.”

Buy fresh pro­duce from farm­ers’ mar­kets or look in su­per­mar­kets for loose or­ganic fruit and veg that have yet to be scrubbed clean. “This is such an easy way to take on board the healthy soil-based bac­te­ria that help im­prove di­ges­tive and im­mune func­tions.”

4. Ex­er­cise: “Daily ex­er­cise keeps your gut mov­ing — even just a short daily walk in the fresh air can make all the dif­fer­ence to keep­ing your gut healthy. Five to 10 min­utes of med­i­ta­tion at the be­gin­ning or end of the day can also help re­lax both brain and gut, which will boost your over­all well­be­ing. I’m a re­cent con­vert to run­ning and en­joy early-morn­ing runs”

5. Give your gut time to rest: “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to al­low our body, and there­fore our gut, to rest from time to time. When­ever pos­si­ble there­fore, try to rest your gut overnight, al­low­ing a clear 12-hour win­dow when noth­ing is eaten.

“It’s also worth con­sid­er­ing juice-only days to fully rest your di­ges­tive sys­tem — I try to have a juice cleanse at least twice a year. Juices are nat­u­ral cleansers and a quick and easy week­end re­boot can make a real dif­fer­ence to how we look and feel.”

FROM THE INSIDE OUT: Some 100tn bac­te­ria live in the gut , both ben­e­fi­cial and path­o­genic.

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