Looking after your health and well-being is fundamentally important to maintaining or gaining a good quality of life. All aspects of your being affect your overall health; your mental, social, physical and spiritual needs must be cared for adequately to protect your wellness.
You can do certain things to boost your health and well-being, and we've put some tips and tricks all in one place so you can get a head start on your self-care!
The gut plays a particularly important role in overall health and well-being. The gut is far bigger than you may first expect; the gastrointestinal tract runs from the mouth to the anus, including the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas and gallbladder. It is a huge section of the body, and understandably, issues in the gut can lead to health issues around the body.
The Power of Nutrition for Better Gut Health
Understanding the importance of gut health is the first step to improving your overall well-being. In the US, 92% of the population is estimated to suffer from at least one vitamin or mineral deficiency.1
The food we consume and our ability for the gut to properly absorb the nutrients is crucial to avoiding a deficiency that can potentially lead to life-threatening disease and illness.
Suppose there aren't enough good bacteria in the gut or too many harmful pathogens. In that case, the gut microbiome will be unbalanced and can struggle to properly absorb the nutrients you consume.
Consuming a probiotic supplement or consuming probiotic food sources can add new species of good bacteria to the gut microbiome, helping to restore balance and diversity. Fermented food and drink such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, fermented cheeses, kombucha, miso or tempeh can add in those helpful probiotics.2
Now your body has the ability to absorb those nutrients, it's time to focus more on what you are putting into your body. Consuming high-fibre foods helps allow the good bacteria in the gut to thrive and repopulate. Beans, lentils, fruit, veg, whole grains and nuts are great sources of fibre.3
You need 6 essential nutrients to fulfil your body's basic needs. These are carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals and water.4 A varied diet containing these nutrients will help your gut and overall health thrive. Remember, no food is inherently good or bad; everything is ok in moderation!
Move Your Way to Improved Gut Health
Exercise is a fantastic way to improve your gut health and positively impact your overall health. As well as being great for muscle mass and weight loss, it benefits your physical and mental well-being.
Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase happiness and decrease stress levels which can help to improve symptoms of depression. By sending more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, we are able to feel more energised during the day.
The muscles in the digestive tract need oxygen and nutrients in order to process the food we consume. By adding exercise into your routine, you can help your body to absorb nutrients and expel toxins from your system.
Yoga, strength training, team sports, walking, running, and pilates are just a few of the many forms of exercise that can benefit your health. Our top tip is to try a few different things until you find something you enjoy. It's far more sustainable to pick up a habit you love!
Check out our article The Gut and Exercise Connection to read more about the benefits you can expect from adding exercise to your routine.
Managing Stress for Better Gut Health
Stress management is crucial to looking after your overall health; stress levels can heavily impact the gut. Have you ever felt the urgent need to poo in a stressful situation?
That is an instinctive reaction to increased serotonin levels caused by stress. 95% of serotonin is made in the gut and is largely responsible for moving food along the gastrointestinal tract. A stressful event causes more serotonin to be produced and can cause food to be pushed through far too quickly. This limits the nutrients gained from that food.5
Eating gentle foods on the gut can improve symptoms associated with stress, including unpleasant bowel symptoms. Toast, bananas, apple sauce, eggs, sweet potatoes, chicken, and salmon are gentle foods.6
Reducing stress levels through meditation, yoga, therapy, or calming activities can also be useful. Check out our article Introduction to Gut Health and Stress to learn more about this area!
Staying Hydrated: A Simple Step for Better Gut Health
Hydration is vital for digestion to take place properly. For the food you consume to be digested, it needs fluid in order to move through the digestive system. If there is not enough fluid, it can cause excess gas, constipation, bloating, pain and discomfort.
Fluid doesn't have to be solely consumed through drinking water; many other sources can improve your hydration levels and digestion! Raw fruits and vegetables, caffeine-free tea, low-fat milk and 100% fruit juice are all full of fluid.
Check out our article Top 10: Most Hydrating Food and Drink to learn more about hydration sources!
Sleep and Your Gut: The Importance of a Good Night's Rest
Sleep is fundamental to our health; we literally can't survive for very long without it. Sleep deprivation causes incredibly difficult physical and psychological discomfort that can be life-threatening if consistent. 71% of adults in the UK report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep per night.7
If you are not well rested, the muscles in your digestive system will have a harder time working. This can limit your ability to properly process food, leading to bowel issues such as diarrhoea, constipation, or nutritional deficiencies.
To improve the quality and length of your sleep, try not to eat too close to bedtime. If your gut has to digest food overnight, you spend your energy on this rather than rejuvenation.
In our article Introduction to Gut Health and Sleep, you can read more about sleep and the gut. Check it out to learn more!
Putting it All Together: Achieving Optimal Health and Well-being
When looking at adding new changes to your life, it's important to aim for only a little at a time. If you feel overwhelmed or under pressure, you're more likely to give up altogether. Don't change too many things at once, and take your time! This is your life, and you choose the pace it goes at.
Better habits can make you feel better. When you're ready, try adding a habit that seems worth it, easy and rewarding. If you try anything we've listed here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We'd love to hear from you.
We have created a 90-day plan designed to help your gut health and overall well-being by slowly introducing great sustainable, achievable habits into your life with support from an expert nutritionist and a 3 month supply of our signature formula Gut Care. Check out the 90-day Gut Reset Plan HERE!