Get gut healthy in 2022
With tips from Registered Dietitian Jo Travers for Love Your Gut
As we head into a new year, there’s never a better time to review your health, both physical and mental. Let’s get Gut Healthy in 2022!
To help us get to grips with our gut health in particular, Registered Dietitian Jo Travers has created some simple tips for Love Your Gut, on how looking after our gut can set us on the path to wellness and happiness for body and mind.
Mindful eating can also help us to recognise our hunger and satiety cues which are extremely useful if you are planning a post-festive health-kick this New Year.
Eat more plant foods (and plant-based proteins)
Research shows that people who eat more than 30 different plant types a week have a more diverse gut microbiome. With the bacteria in the gut being responsible for so many jobs, from digesting food to making neurotransmitters, it’s important that we include variety into our diets. Plant-based proteins are high in fibre and feed the bacteria that live in your gut.
With the rise of people “going vegan” in January, it’s a great time to experiment with eating more vegetable proteins like beans and lentils, to help ensure you hit the 30 different plant types a week.
Take the time to give yourself a gut MOT
The digestive system is unique in the sense that it communicates signs, using all five senses, to provide health indicators and early warning of gut health problems – so it will pay off to get to know your gut, and what it’s trying to tell you, this January.
For example, we can often tell the health of our gut, just by looking at our poo (also known as stools or faeces). Faeces can differ in colour, but there are some colours you need to be aware of. Black and tarry stools can indicate bleeding in the small intestine or stomach, while pale stools accompanied by dark urine could indicate gallstones.
The different appearances of stools are depicted in the Bristol Stool Scale. These are often related to variations brought about by food and mood – to summarise, the harder the stool, the slower the transit through the gut. If you’re concerned you may have a problem, then I would advise speaking to a GP, who will be able to advise further.
Switch your drinks
Alcohol, often present during the Christmas period, can lead to a disruption of the microbiome so let January be the month of drinking more beneficial drinks instead. Water will hydrate and help to prevent constipation, but also some teas can be beneficial too. Green tea contains useful anti-inflammatory polyphenols that have been shown to have a positive effect on the gut microbiota.
Healthy habits can make a difference to your gut health, and one habit to adopt in 2022, is keeping track of symptoms and speaking to experts if you think you may have a gut health issue.
One of the easiest ways to track your gut health is by monitoring what you eat and drink and cross referencing with any symptoms you may experience. A simple way to do this is by keeping a food, mood and symptoms diary, where you can keep note of the food and drink you consume alongside symptoms and then share this with your GP or dietitian, who will be able to help identify any triggers.
Many people often feel embarrassed when it comes to discussing their gut health, but it’s important to share your worries as dealing with digestive problems alone can be stressful and isolating. Having someone to talk to, who can offer support, is the best way to help improve your gut health. Love Your Gut’s #GutTalkGuide is a useful tool to help you talk about gut health issues with healthcare professionals, friends, family and colleagues.
So, let’s agree to look after our gut more in 2022, to help it work alongside our brain and positively influence our overall wellbeing, from physical and mental health to general day to day wellness.
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