Nothing says “marriage material” quite like a robust bowel and a bloat-free belly.
...Alright, maybe that’s at a stretch, but gut health really is all the rage these days, and for good reason, too.
Research is increasingly linking the gut to mental and physical wellbeing, dubbing it our “second brain”; affecting our mood, our mental functioning and our day-to-day comfort levels. This is because our gut is comprised of an entire ecosystem of bacteria and some 100 million neurons (which is more than you’ll find in the spinal cord).
According to Richard E Cytowic (MD) “Up to 90% of the cells involved in psychological stress responses carry information to the brain rather than receiving messages from it, making your gut as influential to your mood as your head is. Maybe even more.”
“I feel it in my gut”, “it makes me sick to the stomach” “gut reaction” “gut instinct” to feel “gutted” after a breakup… It’s no coincidence that these are the words we use to describe our feelings.
People are increasingly suffering from gut-related health complaints; IBS, IBD, Crohn's, Leaky Gut, to name a few. And yet, despite the large number of sufferers, no “one-size fits all” cure exists, and people are continuing to struggle in their search for relief.
Whilst doctors invariably have a role to play in getting you back to the full of your health, there’s a lot to be said for making some changes in your diet, and incorporating certain food groups that have been found to dramatically improve complaints. These foods and drinks are full of probiotics and good bacteria, which have been found to heal your gut from the inside out.
Top five food and drinks to help get your gut out of that rut
1. Bone broth
Bone broth is surprisingly straightforward to make, but it does magical wonders on your insides, thanks to the collagen it contains which heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation. To make it, leave a few bones to boil in a pot for at least four hours – adding in some garlic, celery, onions and salt for flavour – then sieve the liquid through, and you’re ready to go.
Getting probiotics into your diet is vital if you’re dealing with gut issues. Consuming naturally fermented foods not only supplies the gut with probiotics, but the extra acidity they create helps to support the good bacteria that are already there. Fermented foods that are high in probiotics include kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut yoghurt and tempeh. You can also buy probiotic supplements (note: it’s best to buy multi-strain probiotic supplements, and remember that they need to be kept chilled at all times).
3. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains raw enzymes and beneficial bacteria that help to stimulate the digestive juices; assist the absorption of nutrients; control the growth of harmful yeast and bacteria in the stomach; and help to put indigestion, bloating and gas at bay. Health professionals advise to mix a teaspoon of ACV in with a cup of warm water and knock it back at the start of the day. Note: Never drink apple cider vinegar straight as it can burn your oesophagus and damage your tooth enamel.
4. L Glutamine
This is an amino acid that rejuvenates the lining of the intestinal wall and reduces inflammation. It’s incredible. Buy it in tablet or powder form in any good health food shop, and take it first thing in the morning with water.
5. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is considered an anti-inflammatory food which helps heal the digestive tract in patients who suffer from diseases like Crohn’s. Moreover, coconut oil’s anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties means that it helps to kill “bad” microorganisms that can cause chronic inflammation.