Our Gut and now the Microbiome, as it is referred to, is an amazing part of our body that is the toic of continual research. Looking at how it functions is one of my passions as it has improved my health and my lifestyle generally. If you’ve ever suffered from digestive issues you know how debilitating, and often embarrassing, they can be and to find a solution that works is life changing.
Understanding how the gut functions and how you can support it is, in my opinion, key to long term health.
Our gut is a wonderful piece of engineering and is the star of our digestive system but is it even part of the human body? It’s actually made up of something like 1 – 2 kilos of microbes which live in the gut and form what we now call the microbiome.
This microbiome protects the guts from invaders and regulates our entire immune system.
Just some of things it’s involved in are:
regulating our body weight
Deciding on how much energy is extracted from food
Controls hunger signals and cravings
And provides blood sugar spikes in response to a meal.
It also takes the food the body can’t digest and coverts it into hormones and chemicals. These control mood, appetite and health. Thing like Gherlin – the hormone that makes us feel hungry, and leptin the hormone that tells is when we are full are part of this system.
Some of the bacteria in the microbiome involved in extracting energy from our food are super efficient while others are not. Eating cake for instance creates a spike in our blood sugar which in turn means our pancreas creates insulin in response to brings our blood sugar down. This surge in insulin followed by a crash can leave us tired and hungry.
Cutting back on foods that create this response can be beneficial to your health but also to your micro-biome. Reducing sugary foods but also foods which are turned to sugar in the body can really help. Try to avoid white bread, white rice and potatoes because of their high GI score (glycemic index).
You can also aid the gut by adding foods rich in fibre called inulin – this comes from onions, leeks and garlic, chicory, dandelion leaves, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and bananas. Fibre rich food like oats, barley, linseeds or flaxseeds can also help. And whether possible look for foods that are starch resistant including whole grains, seeds, legumes and pasta and rice which has been pre-cooked and cooled as this makes the starch resistant to digestion.
You can also add fermented foods to your diet – Saurkraut, Kefir and Kimchi are great additions alongside apple cider vinegar. Bioactive molecules in apples really aid digestion and can reduce the sugar absorption of foods by up to 50%. Take 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a shot of warm water 30 minutes before a meal.
Increasing your general fruit and vegetable intake is also key to the health of your microbiome. If you can start to increase the fruit and veg you eat to 30 or more different varieties a week you will be adding a huge amount of biodiversity to your diet. Many western diets use the same 12 fruit and vegetables week in, week out and this level of limited biodiversity is not encouraging good gut bacteria.
So, the big question is:
Do we really need to take enzyme supplements or is it simply a marketing ploy powered by supplement suppliers? The answer is, of course, it depends.
If you suffer with symptoms of recurring digestive issues including:
- Gas and tummy cramps, pain
- bloating and other IBS symptoms (read more on this blog Are you sufering with IBS?)
- a feeling of fullness after a few mouthfuls of food
- heaviness or a heavy feeling after eating
- your stools are loose and have undigested food in them or
- you regularly get constipated
- depression or anxiety, panic attacks etc
it would be worth looking into a probiotic and digestive enzyme supplement.
Adding more bio-diversity to your gut
For those who do need them, enzyme supplements can be life-changing – they were for me!
Arbonne’s Digestion Plus is a combination of a pre-biotic – the fertiliser to your microbiome, Probiotics – the live bacteria or yeast that are parachuted into the intestine to help take root and do good and Digestive enzymes which support the breakdown, absorption, and utilization of macronutrients. Taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or with a drink, Digestion Plus works with the body’s own reduced supply of enzymes to achieve maximum digestion and support intestinal repair mechanisms. Not only will they support your micro-biome but they will help boost your immunity, increase your mental wellbeing, help things keep moving protect against leaky gut and ensure you have glowing radiant skin. And at £1.50 a day they’re great value for money too!
If this has opened up questions for you then do get in touch I’m happy to have an informal chat with you about your overall health and gut health in particular.