What is your Gut Telling You?
Digestive issues are on the rise and take many shapes and forms. I see clients every week and find that disturbances in the gut play a role in many of the conditions people seek help with – even if they do not seek help for digestive discomfort or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This anecdotal observation is backed up by numerous scientific studies which show that an imbalanced gut is implicated in a range of issues from arthritis, depression, skin conditions and many more.
So what is the story – can your gut really play a role in your overall health? The answer is clearly yes! Conditions like IBS are the most common forms of gut disturbance with many people suffering from bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhoea. Even without a diagnosis of IBS, gut complaints crop up in a large section of the population, with many people learning to live with them as the norm.
Listen to your Body
When your digestive system starts acting up, it’s a message from your body that something is out of balance. The first step is to establish what could be causing your specific symptoms. Each person is unique and health problems will manifest in different ways.
Common causes of gut disturbance include:
- Poor diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars and low in fibre
- Long-term use of antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors and other drugs
- Chronic or acute stress and anxiety
- Previous food poisoning or gastroenteritis
- Disruption of pancreatic enzymes
- Alcohol abuse
Usually gut dysfunction appears due to a combination of factors, hence a multi-faceted approach to restoring healthy gut function is the best way forward.
Eat your Gut into Health
What we eat is one of the simplest ways to address digestive pain. Reducing or removing foods that cause your bowel pain is the first step. Keep a food diary and think about what foods may be causing your symptoms. Working with a trained nutritional therapist or nutritionist will ensure that you safely manage your diet to avoid any nutrient deficiencies. You can also boost your beneficial gut bacteria by consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods. Prebiotic foods contain specific fibres, such as inulin, that beneficial bacteria thrive on. Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, garlic, onions, oats and apples are all great sources. Probiotic foods deliver live beneficial bacteria directly to your gut. The best probiotic foods include milk or water kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables. Natural unsweetened yoghurt is also a great source.
Stress Levels Can Exacerbate Digestive Discomfort
When nurturing your gut health, always consider the role of stress and anxiety. The chemical changes brought about by short or long-term stress are closely implicated in many digestive problems. Engaging in stress-reduction techniques, gentle movement or counselling can help resolve gut issues for many people and this will be covered more indepth in other articles. What you eat, your environment and how you think can affect the health of your digestive system. Don’t learn to live with your symptoms. Seek advice from trained professionals and start living your best life. For more information on solutions for IBS or other gut conditions, please contact us.
*Some digestive symptoms can signal more serious problems. If you notice blood in your stool or experience very dark or extremely changeable bowel movement, please seek advice from your GP.