A few years back when I was first diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, my entire body was of all sorts, even my gut, and digestive tract. I was constantly bloated and swollen and I seemed to react to foods that I once was able to eat.

I was a complete mess, physically and emotionally. It is quite amazing and frightening at the same how your body works and how all the different organs are connected. It has taken me a long time and a lot of effort to restore my health again.

This is why I am so passionate about working in this industry. I want to teach you about how the body works and about flexible dieting. I don't know if you saw it, but the other day I talked about your thyroid and how it may affect your metabolism and health. Today, I’d like to talk about your gut and why it is so important that you look after it.

The gut

The gut is your gastrointestinal tract, starting at the mouth and ends all the way at your butt. It is responsible for the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients and water. If your gut health is compromised, your ability to break down food or absorb nutrients will be affected.

This is why it is so important to look after your gut. So what can affect your gut health?

There are a few factors that can have a negative effect on your gut health, such as:

1. Stress

Your gut is controlled by your brain and nervous system, often referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ system. However, this system can be ‘shut down’ at times of stress, as the ‘fight or flight’ system will take over. This will have a negative effect on the ability to break down the foods you eat and also the absorption of the nutrients from these foods. 

2. Alcohol

Alcohol is another factor that might have a negative effect on your gut health and alcoholic beverages seem to affect the function of all parts of your gut, such as gut motility (movement), nutrient absorption and your gut flora (the bacteria mostly located in your colon).

3. Medication

Certain medication, such as antibiotics, can affect the health of your gut negatively. You shouldn’t stop taking your medication unless told by your doctor. However, if your medication may have a negative effect on your gut, ask if there is anything your doctor would recommend for you to do.

4. Age

As we get older our production of digestive enzymes that will help with the breakdown of foods will decrease. When you don’t have enough enzymes to help with the breakdown of foods the rate of digestion will decrease, but the rate of nutrient absorption will also be negatively affected. Poor digestion might also affect your gut flora negatively

5. Imbalance in your gut flora

Having a healthy gut flora is really important for your overall health and wellbeing. And although you may have some ‘bad’ bacteria in your colon, having more of the good ones will help keep them at bay so that they don’t take over. However, there are instances when this balance between good and bad bacteria is affected, which can have a huge impact on your health.

So, what if you want to restore your gut health? What can you do? I’ve listed my top tips below that have helped me over the last few years.

1. L-glutamine

L-glutamine is a supplement that was previously sold to aid in muscle recovery, however, in my opinion, its best benefit is in healing your gut. L-glutamine seems to be able to help you gut repair and also act as an anti-inflammatory. Make sure you buy a high-quality, all-natural powder.

2. Probiotics

If you have an imbalance in your gut flora, e.g. after a course of antibiotics, you can purchase probiotics containing strands of bacteria that are known to be important for our gut health. Taking probiotics will help restore the balance and make you get a healthier gut flora.

3.  Prebiotics

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria, whilst prebiotic is the ‘food’ for the healthy bacteria so that they thrive in your gut. Some of the foods you should include in your diet are artichokes, onion, garlic, chickpeas, lentils, asparagus, beetroot (beets), fennel, leek, kidney beans, watermelon, cashew nuts, barley, rye, wheat bran and oats.

4. Digestive enzymes

As mentioned, your ability to produce digestive enzymes will decrease with age. However, stress might also affect your enzyme production and secretion. If you are under a lot of stress it is obviously important that you reduce it, but it might also be beneficial to take a digestive enzyme supplement to assist.

5. Fermented foods

Fermented foods are quite popular nowadays and rightfully so. These types are foods are great for your gut health. Fermented foods contain bacteria and will help boost the levels of healthy bacteria in your gut. If you are not already, I’d recommend for you to include these foods in your diet on a regular basis: natural yoghurt (just make sure the product contains healthy bacteria), sauerkraut, pickled vegetables such as beets, radish, and garlic, kimchi, miso, natto and tempeh.