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Love Your Gut Week – Six Tips to Better Gut Health

Six Tips to Better Gut Health for Love Your Gut Week 2022

It’s Love Your Gut Week and the gut is one of the most important organs in the body so keeping it healthy is crucial to our overall wellbeing.

Learning to look after your gut has huge benefits, The gut has the power to impact everything, from our mood to immunity and weight, so it’s vital to give it the love and attention it deserves.

As well as having its own ‘brain’, which contains 150 million nerve cells[1], the gut is also home to trillions of bacteria that play a vital role in providing essential nutrients, tuning the immune system and even altering the function of the brain and other distant parts of the body. The gut can influence our mental health and mood, due to a direct link between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis.


Love Your Gut Week – Six Tips to Better Gut Health

Jo Travers, Registered Dietitian: “The gut and the brain ‘talk’ to each other on a regular basis using special chemical messengers produced by the bacteria that lives in our gut. Among these we can find dopamine and serotonin – also known as happiness or ‘feel good’ hormones.

“Although gut-brain axis communication is two-way, over 80% of the messages are sent from the gut to the brain, rather than the other way round. However, if conditions are less favourable in either place, then this can affect the other.

“The health of our gut has an impact not only our digestion, but also our immune system and weight management – so with a little nurturing, the gut will not only aid your mental health, but your physical health too.”

To help everyone look after their gut health this Love Your Gut Week, and beyond, Jo has shared her top six tips:

Support Your Immunity

There is a strong link between gut health and the immune system. The bacteria in our gut ‘teach’ our immune systems what is harmful and what isn’t. This helps make sure the immune system doesn’t overreact when exposed to antigens and keeps inflammation in check[2]. This important bacteria thrives when we eat plenty of plant fibre; get some exercise; sleep well and manage our stress.

Eat 30 plant points a week

A varied gut microbiota is associated with better health[3]. To keep the bacteria thriving, you need to feed them well[4]. A study found that people who eat 30 or more different plant foods each week are likely to have a much more varied gut microbiota than those who eat 10 or less[5]. To up your intake of plant-based foods, try adopting new habits such as swapping to whole meal pasta when cooking, adding an extra portion of veg to your plate or snacking on nuts and seeds.

Get enough sleep

Sufficient sleep is something everyone needs, and depriving ourselves of sleep, can disrupt the communication between our gut and  brain. The bacteria in the gut directly communicate with the central nervous system and disrupted sleep can affect the levels of bacteria in the gut[6].

Manage stress

Stress – physical or psychological – triggers a chain reaction in the body, including the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause dysregulation of the communication pathways between the gut and the brain (the gut-brain axis[7]).

This can mean changes to blood flow and secretions in the gut, which may create better conditions for pathological bacteria and inhibit the growth of some helpful bacteria[8]. It can also affect the movement of food through the gut and result in either constipation or diarrhoea[9].

Get into nature

Did you know that just coming into contract with the great outdoors is enough to influence our gut bacteria? Microscopic airborne particles are colonised by a variety of bacteria that make their way into us via the air we breathe[10]. One of my favourite ways to take advantage of the outdoors is by gardening, as science shows that exposure to green spaces and outdoor sunlight, including our own gardens, has proved successful at improving mental wellbeing, reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, while also having a positive effect on stress reduction[11] [12].

Keep track of what you eat and drink

An easy way to monitor your gut health is by tracking 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 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.

References

[1] Raj K et al. (1996) The Brain and the Gut. NEJM Vol. 334: 1106-1115

[2] Belkaid, Hand (2014), Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/pdf/nihms579635.pdf

[3] Valdes A et al..(2018) Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ 361:k2179

[4] David LA et al. (2014) Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature 505(7484):559–563 doi:10.1038/nature12820

[5] McDonald D et al. (2018). American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. Systems. 3(3):e00031-18. doi:10.1128/mSystems.00031-18

[6] Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans

Robert P. Smith, Cole Easson, Sarah M. Lyle, Ritishka Kapoor, Chase P. Donnelly, Eileen J. Davidson, Esha Parikh, Jose V. Lopez, Jaime L. Tartar . Published: October 7, 2019

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222394

[7] Konturek PC et al.(2011). Stress and the gut: Pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: an Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society. 62. 591-9.

[8] Galley JD et al. (2014) Exposure to a social stressor disrupts the community structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota. BMC Microbiol. 14:189. doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-189

[9] Taché Y & Bonaz B (2007) Corticotropin-releasing factor receptors and stress-related alterations of gut motor function. J Clin Invest 117: 33-40.

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4688924/

[11] Soga M et al. (2016) Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Prev Med Rep 5:92-99

[12] Webb AR et al. (2018) Meeting vitamin D requirements in white Caucasians at UK latitudes: providing a choice. Nutrients 10(4):497

The post Love Your Gut Week – Six Tips to Better Gut Health appeared first on Love Your Gut.

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By: Catherine Hogan
Title: Love Your Gut Week – Six Tips to Better Gut Health
Sourced From: loveyourgut.com/all-entries/love-your-gut-week-six-tips-to-better-gut-health/
Published Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2022 13:24:28 +0000

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