Aug 16

The gut microbiome

There is an old saying that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Essentially it means that we must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. Whatever your role is (a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, caregiver, or all of the above), you are constantly giving, taking care of your loved ones, constantly on the go. There is little time to think about yourself and look after your own health and needs. You must remember that your own health is one of the most valuable things you own. In every woman, there is a powerhouse- a force, and you need to look after yourself.

For me, health and gut health goes hand in hand. Our gut is incredibly complex and there has been an overwhelming increase in research to better understand our gut and its impact on our health.

When we think of gut health, the term microbiome comes to mind. This refers to the microorganisms living in your intestines (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa). It is vital to know that there are beneficial and harmful microorganisms that reside in our gut. The beneficial bacteria play a role in enhancing your immune system, improves symptoms of depression and help with weight loss. Harmful microorganisms might lead to certain signs and symptoms that cannot be otherwise medically explained.

The way signs and symptoms may manifest:

  1. Upset stomach: Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut.
  2. Unintentional weight loss: An imbalance in microorganisms in your gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar, and store fat, leading to weight loss. If you
  3. Sleep disturbances: An unhealthy gut may contribute to sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep, and lead to chronic fatigue.
  4. Food intolerances: Food intolerances are the result of difficulty digesting certain foods. This can lead to difficulty digesting the trigger foods and unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Habits you need to prioritise to improve gut health.

  1. Eat slowly: Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients.
  2. Change your diet: Reduce the amount of processed, high-sugar, and high-fat foods that you eat. A diet high in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the amount of good bacteria in your gut. A diet high in fibre has been shown to contribute tremendously to a healthy gut microbiome. Eat plenty of plant-based foods and lean protein.
  3. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water.
  4. Get enough sleep: Try to prioritize getting at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

Food for gut health:

  1. High-fibre foods: High-fibre foods such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks.
  2. Prebiotics: Sources include wheat, onions, bananas, garlic, leeks, chicory, oatmeal, barley, wholegrains, flaxseeds, tomato, artichoke, spinach, and legumes.
  3. Probiotic foods: Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are great dietary sources of probiotics.

Happy Women’s Month- we celebrate you and all you do for those around you.

Written by The Gutsy Dietitians