Have you thought about gut fitness? With an increasing focus on our gut health, we tend to separate our ‘internal health’ from our ‘external fitness.’ From input to output, everything is interlinked and optimal gut health impacts our fitness performance.
A good healthy gut microbiome not only boosts our mood which in turn increases motivation but it gives us more energy, boosting our ATP cellular energy levels which means less lactic acid build-up as it reduces fatigue.
It also will help to boost your immunity, bone health and digestive system.
Exercise also improves our gut health but there are several other factors that may negatively or positively impact your gut health. Here are answers to commonly asked questions regarding our gut health and fitness from The Gut Stuff.
What’s good or bad for your gut health?
Is fruit too high in sugar? Fruit is an important source of fibre, polyphenols and micronutrients. Yes, it does contain sugar (in the form of sucrose, fructose and glucose) but the fibre in whole fruit slows down how quickly it is broken down and absorbed. Like everything, moderation is key. Mix up the types of fruit you have and go for a rainbow of colours.
Colonic irrigation/hydrotherapy involves the insertion of a tube into your rectum and warm water is then flushed through your large intestine, sometimes with a herbal infusion.
The idea is that waste is flushed out. There isn’t actually any evidence to suggest health benefits and they often come accompanied by some unwanted side effects like tummy pain, bloating, diarrhoea, soreness and even more severe, dehydration, infection, punctured bowel and some other nasties.
Anthony Williams, the ‘medical medium’ claims to be the originator of the global celery juice movement. According to Williams, drinking 16oz of celery juice daily on an empty stomach has healing benefits for those with autoimmune conditions ranging from Hashimotos thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes to eczema and psoriasis. In addition, he also claims it is a ‘detox’ drink. A quick search on Instagram for #celeryjuice brings up over 84,000 results! Sure, you may feel better for drinking 16oz of celery juice, but is this because you are adding an extra portion of vegetables to your diet (with celery providing a source of vitamin K) and increasing your water intake or are you experiencing a ‘placebo’ effect?
What influences your gut microbiota?
- Infant feeding!
Babies who are breastfed have a different makeup of gut microbes than those who are not due to the prebiotic qualities of breast milk. However, there are now some formula milk that contains prebiotics to support a baby’s gut in a similar way to breast milk.
- How you’re born:
The way you are born, whether vaginally or by caesarean is going to have an effect on your microbes. But the good news is there is plenty you can do to shape your microbes for the better.
By early childhood, your gut microbes become relatively stable but there are plenty of opportunities for the community of microbes to change along the way as we age.
Top tips for optimal Gut Health:
* Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods.
* Eat more fibre. Most people eat less than they should. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains feed healthy bacteria.
* Avoid highly processed foods. They often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good’ bacteria or increase ‘bad’ bacteria.
* Probiotic foods, such as live yoghurt, might encourage more microbes to grow. Eat them if you enjoy them.
* Choose extra-virgin olive oil over other fats when you can. It contains the highest number of microbe-friendly polyphenols.
* Antibiotics kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’. If you need antibiotics, make sure you eat lots of foods that boost your microbes afterwards.
* If your diet is low in fibre, a sudden increase can cause wind and bloating. This is less likely if you make gradual changes and drink extra water.
Probiotics vs prebiotics
Prebiotics are foods that ‘fertilise’ our existing gut bacteria and encourage the development of a diverse community of microbes. These foods are complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables and wholegrains. Probiotics are foods, or food supplements, that contain live bacteria thought to be beneficial to us. This includes live yoghurt, some cheeses and fermented foods
What are probiotics?
Gut health can impact everything, from our physical health to our skin. Did you know that even mental health can be affected by poor gut health, including leading to anxiety and depression?
A poor diet or unbalanced microbes in your gut can lead to pesky breakouts. No amount of care and attention you pay to your skin will work if your stomach isn’t happy. If you feel like you’ve tried everything for your skincare regime, then it’s time to look to the gut.