Fancy a week of “resetting”? Try These 7 Expert Tips
We are totally obsessed with gut health and gut healing these days. In fact, one of my group chats (usually an area with no health or fitness) recently started discussing the benefits of trying a “gut health reset”, much to my concern. And that’s because they want to feel “better”. Our guts have suddenly become the epicenter of emotional and physical well-being (perhaps because we know that 95% of our serotonin is made in the gut).
While focusing on gut health isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does leave us vulnerable to inaccurate information. TikTok, for example, is full of absurd gut healing hacks that do very little in terms of promoting beneficial gut bacteria. In fact, the very term “gut healing” should be an immediate red flag for anyone looking to improve their overall well-being.
That’s why Dr. Emilia Thompson, Registered Nutritionist and Health Coach, shares seven common sense tips for improving and maintaining good gut health. None of them, she says, “involve the words ‘gut healing protocol’.” In an Instagram post, she claims that people who promote this type of healing classes are “charlatans”. Instead, she lists seven scientifically backed lifestyle adjustments we can make to give our guts the best support.
Manage your stress level to soothe the gut-brain axis
Stay hydrated by drinking enough water every day
Drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a positive effect on the intestinal lining as well as the balance of good bacteria in the gut. In fact, some scientists say that water is actually “the forgotten nutrient” when it comes to gut health.
A 2022 study, published in The Nutrition Diary, found that there is a difference in the diversity and density of gut bacteria between those who drink a lot of water and those who do not drink enough. He found, for example, that regular water drinkers tended to have fewer Campylobacter bacteria, which have been linked to gastrointestinal infections.
Eat 30g of fiber per day and 30 different plants per week
We don’t have to tell you that more plants and fiber mean better gut health. But diversity is important here. Similar to how your muscles need to be surprised with different types of movement if they want to get stronger over time, your gut bacteria want to be fed a range of different foods each week.
Dr Tim Spector of the British Gut Project was instrumental in promoting the 30 week program. Its researchers collected microbiome samples from 10,000 people and performed DNA analysis to identify the strains of microbes found in the gut. They found that those who ate 30 different types of plants per week had optimal gut health and reduced symptoms of dysbiosis, a malfunction of the gut microbiome.
Exercise regularly…but not *too* much
General NHS guidelines advise us to do 150 minutes of moderate movement each week. And while there’s a whole list of benefits associated with daily exercise, the one you might not be as familiar with is better gut health. In fact, a 2021 study confirmed that moderate exercise can promote positive changes in the makeup of our gut microbiota.
“Exercise is known to help with gut issues, such as improving short-term constipation,” said Evelyn Toner, sports nutritionist at Gut Health Clinic. Stylist. It should be noted, however, that doing a lot of exercise (such as marathon training) can have the opposite effect: “Endurance exercise has been shown to cause intestinal discomfort – reducing blood flow to region,” says Toner. “Prolonged exercise can lead to increased intestinal permeability and the development of exercise-induced intestinal symptoms such as bloating, discomfort, nausea, and diarrhea.”
So as always, the dose makes the poison.
Eat more slowly and chew every bite of food
You don’t necessarily need to eat quickly to experience heartburn or poor digestion. Simply not chewing your food enough and being distracted by other things going on during meals can mean swallowing bits of food and air, which can cause intestinal symptoms. If you can, get away from your desk at lunchtime and set aside at least 30 minutes to savor every morsel of food (and if you must eat on your laptop, at least don’t try to work and eat at the same time).
Moderate your caffeine and alcohol intake
Include fermented foods and try to follow a Mediterranean style diet
A 2021 study from Stanford University found that fermented foods may actually be better than fiber at improving gut diversity and reaping the associated health benefits. In the study, researchers randomly assigned people to a high-fiber diet or a fermented diet that included foods such as kefir, kimchi and probiotic yogurts.
While both groups saw improvements in their microbiome, only the fermented food group increased the diversity of strains of bacteria that lived in their gut. So it’s an invitation to start your day with a bowl of living yogurt, add kimchi to your midday toastie, or accompany your dinner with pickles.
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most nutritious ways to eat, thanks to the fact that it covers all major food groups and includes plenty of anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. Think about it: you have a plate full of fresh fruits and vegetables, drizzled with olive oil rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, accompanied by fiber-rich almonds, antioxidant seeds, potassium-filled avocados and fatty fish. (such as grilled sardines, salmon, and anchovies) that are packed with omega-3s.
It’s not just the fiber content of the Med diet that benefits gut health; a 2017 study also reported that omega-3s “can be considered (a) prebiotic.”