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Is Gut Health Really That Important?

It’s become a bit of a buzz phrase in the last few years. Gut health, gut fauna, call it what you will, we’re becoming obsessed with what’s happening in our stomachs.

women's gut health - a woman making heart sign using her hands over stomach

Apparently, for women, better gut health is the best way to restore hormonal balance. There are even claims that a good gut can stop us developing all sorts of diseases.

So is it just a fad or is there something to the latest claims that improving your gut microbiome can have wide ranging health benefits?

 

What is Gut Health?

The idea that the gut has a role to play in health isn’t new.

As far back as Ancient Greece, philosophers thought that all diseases began in the stomach. In recent times, the concept of the microbiome has come into the public consciousness.

This is a collection of trillions of microbes, bacteria, viruses and other microscopic organisms, some of which are good, some bad. They hang out in a place in the large intestine called the cecum. Research suggests there may be thousands of different types of bacteria in your gut and they all have different functions. Some researchers have gone as far as to call this region a second brain because it is so important to our daily functioning.


These bacteria can do things like digest fibre, protect against heart disease, reduce the potential for diabetes, affect the central nervous system and even the brain. Some researchers suggest they can help control things like weight loss and gain.

Your gut microbiome is a delicately balanced eco-system and what we put into our bodies is key in how this region performs. In short, bad eating habits help to promote more bad microbes. Good eating habits help to improve the number of good bacteria.

There’s some evidence, for example, that an imbalance can cause weight gain and may play a role in reversing problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

 

Steps to Better Gut Health for Women

So if your gut eco-system has been suffering over the last few years, is there anything you can do?

The good news is that restoring your microbiome and promoting healthy bacteria is a simple matter of diet. Change that and you will see radical changes in just a few weeks.

  • Get rid of processed foods (ready meals, white pasta, boxed cereals etc) as these contain large amounts of sugar, salt and have less nutritional value.
  • Replace with fresh and homemade produce. In other words, anything that isn’t prepacked and made in a factory.
  • Whole foods that provide fibre should be an integral part of your diet. You should be eating more pulses, beans and fresh vegetables.
  • You can get probiotic drinks that are supposed to improve gut health but you should be sceptical of these. It’s much better to make your own.
  • You can produce your own kefir, for instance, a really healthy yogurt drink made from milk which contains a number of useful microbes.
  • Avoid anything that can impact on your gut health such as too much alcohol and too much caffeine. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your favourite tipple altogether but moderation is the word of the day.

Finally, another thing that affects your gut is stress. If you can reduce the impact of this in your life, you’ll also improve your microbiome system. Try more exercise and take up meditation if you want to compliment your dietary changes with a more centred pysche.

 

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