Learning to support your gut and the beneficial bacteria that live there is the best thing you can do for your health.
The good news is that feeding the gut with foods can be fun. Good bacteria love so many delicious fruits, grains, legumes, vegetables, herbs, and spices. Beneficial fats found in butter, olive oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, avocado oil, and coconut oil provide nutrients that nourish the gut and, of course, protein is always needed to build a healthy home for the bacteria.
Maybe you react to certain foods. That is a sign you do not have the needed good bacteria to digest the food properly. Working on your gut health may help you to stop reacting. So, what do you have to lose? Feed your gut and feel the rewards.
In a perfect world, we would all have known more about the beneficial microbes in and on our body and how to look after them. We would know how to feed them, and we would be reaping the amazing health they help us achieve.
Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and many of us live with results of poor gut management and the symptoms that go with it – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and inflammation.
This is a complex issue, and what we know is that poor gut health is being linked as a factor to every other health condition. No matter what health condition you may have, being nice to your gut microbes should be part of any plan for repair and recovery.
Refined and processed foods: They do not feed the microbes properly so that they can thrive and protect us.
Antibiotics: They deplete both good and bad bacteria and for some reason, the bad recover faster from antibiotic use than the good.
Other Medications: Corticosteroids, birth control pills, aspirin, ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) interfere with the mucus lining – the home of the good bacteria where they reproduce.
Stress: In today’s world, we run around like crazy with too many activities and responsibilities and it’s taking its toll. Amongst many other things, excess stress depletes good bacteria levels. In return, too much bad bacteria stimulates cortisol production, our main stress hormone.
Poor Sleeping Habits: Our gut bacteria sleep when we sleep, and just one night of no sleep can lower the quality and quantity of our gut microbes. Think about what it must mean when poor- quality sleep occurs night after night for many years.
Bad Digestive Habits: Chewing food properly is key to digesting good food properly. Forty-five per cent of the bacteria in the gut is seeded by the bacteria in the mouth. And to make sure the bacteria is primarily beneficial, we need to secrete lots of antimicrobial saliva to keep the bad bacteria levels low. Chewing stimulates saliva production and we need to chew more.
Exercise: Too little or too much doesn’t help us maintain our good bacteria levels. Moderate exercise on a regular basis is the best option.
What you need to know:
There are two types of beneficial bacteria:
Residential bacteria are native to you, and this is what you need to build and maintain long-term health.
Transient bacteria are found in probiotic supplements and fermented foods – they help while they are there, but they’re just passing through.
Do you suffer from foods sensitivities or allergies?
Food sensitivities are not caused by the food. They are a digestive issue due to lack of enzymes and/or lack of good bacteria. We do not know what strains any one person is missing, but we do know that different strains help us digest different foods. For example, lactose intolerance is due to lack of the good bacteria that helps break down lactose. Improving the quantity and quality of the strains will improve the ability to digest all types of foods.
What is dysbiosis?
It’s the name given to the condition in the gut when there is no longer the right ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria. The gut should have 85 per cent beneficial microbes. Anything less than this can result in symptoms, and as the ratio gets further out of balance, more symptoms occur. Dysbiosis has been linked to all major health conditions.
It’s residential bacteria that need to be re-established. Probiotic supplements can help in the short term, but the permanent solution is finding the right balance of foods and lifestyle that the gut requires to function at it best on its own.
What do residential bacteria like to eat?
They like fibre like FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), polyphenols, and resistant starch. Dairy products contain two types of food for bacteria – lactose and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) They also function best with lots of vitamins and minerals. So, load up on the fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy products.
The key to a healthy gut is increasing the number and diversity of strains. Different foods feed different strains so variety is the key.
Instructions: Take a look at the suggestions in each section. Pick the ones that are easiest for you to add to your daily life. Add one at a time if that is what works best for you. The goal is to add more suggestions as you go until you find the right combination for you. Look for your digestive, elimination and energy functions to improve. To view the above table click on this link3 Best Steps To Better Gut Health and Well.
If you need further help and support please get in touch with me.
I have made the decision to share my personal journey with you all. This wasn’t easy to write as I am a very private person but as a coach, I feel it is important to be able to relate to my client’s struggles and be able to offer support and encouragement from a place of personal experience. I see so many people struggle with their own health and weight loss issues for lots of different reasons. Healthy eating and managing your weight isn’t just about what we put in our mouths. It’s so much more than that.
After having my second child I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and generalised anxiety. I lived in a constant state of fear. I can only describe it as living with that same sensation of that split second a car pulls out in front of you. You slam on your breaks, you get a fright, your heart is thumping, you can’t breathe and your legs are shaking. Depending on how big a fright you get this sensation of panic will pass. However, for me, I lived in this constant state of ‘fear’ day in and day out. I stopped leaving the house and was utterly terrified my kids and I would be killed in a tragic accident. We stopped going to the shops, I stopped walking with the buggy and we stayed in the house all day long. I lived like this for around 6 months before getting help.
Help for me came in the form of antidepressants, a particularly nasty kind because I was breastfeeding. After about three weeks the sense of impending doom lifted and I was able to function again. I went back to work a few months later and things were good. I was a bit of a zombie and gained a lot of weight which I couldn’t shift on my medication. Looking back now, I wish I knew then what I know now about the true powers of exercise and good nutrition.
When I was well and feeling better I weened myself off the antidepressants. My diet at this time was poor, highly processed and I consumed a LOT of sugar! I tried various diets and they worked for a few weeks but were unsustainable long term. I would lose some weight then put it back on, or I would reach my ‘goal weight’ then revert back to my old ways and pile it back on and feel like a failure. A common story for so many people. That diet treadmill is a horrible cycle to be stuck in.
Fast forward one year and I fell pregnant with my third child Charlie, he was a pleasant surprise, however, I was scared post-natal depression would rear its ugly head again. Fortunately, it didn’t. In fact, I felt amazing. I had three gorgeous boys and I felt really good. This came as a big relief to me, I was more sociable, outgoing and generally a much happier mummy. I believed my days of depression were behind me at last.
Five months later my world was turned upside down in a split second when I discovered my husband was having an affair with someone I viewed as a friend and had been since before I fell pregnant with Charlie.
My husband and I separated almost overnight and I found myself a new place to live. Due to the situation, I also made the decision to move my kids to a different school and nursery. (This all happened in a matter of weeks, 2 weeks to be exact!) This was such a difficult time for me mentally, I was terrified of the thought of being a single mum, bringing up three wee boys all by myself. It wasn’t how I thought my life was going to turn out. Silly things would sadden me, like family holidays, how would I ever manage two weeks on my own in Spain with three kids, silly I know but I felt like my dreams of a family life had been taken away from me.
At first, I muddled on the adrenaline got me throw the first few weeks but as the dust settled I could feel myself slipping down ‘that’ horrible road again. I just couldn’t go through all that again, my kids needed me more than ever! They needed a fully functioning, happy, loving mum. They also needed me to support them through this sudden change to their family life. Everyone I confided in about my concerns for my children, told me how resilient kids are and to not worry about them too much. How right were they, thank goodness!
After several trips to the doctor, I was prescribed another course of antidepressants. I reluctantly accepted them as I felt it was my only option. After arriving home from the doctor’s surgery clutching my prescription, I sat at my kitchen table staring at them, not wanting to take them but also not wanting to feel this bad either, I wanted the old me back.
I knew deep down this depression was caused by a situation in my life that I knew in time would get easier. I made the choice to researched how to help improve my depression and anxiety without medication. It became very clear quickly, that exercise was up there as one of the main ways to help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Nutrition also played a massive roll in alleviating the symptoms of depression. So that was it I was hooked! I threw my anti-depressants to the back of the cupboard and decided to get myself through this with healthy eating and exercise and it worked, it worked fast. I am not saying anti-depressants are bad or should be avoided because they helped me in the past. This time I wanted to help myself in a way that I knew would benefit me long term. I would not recommend coming off medication without consulting your doctor first.
So my journey to a happy, healthy Christy began nearly 5 years ago. I started walking every day with the buggy, then running and I started training weights, lifting heavy weights made me feel strong, with no man around the house I needed to be strong physically as well as mentally. I cut sugar from my diet and cut out alcohol Monday to Friday. I started my journey by eating clean, cutting all processed food from my diet, including flour, sugar, bread, pasta and avoiding preservatives, colour additives and fat replaces. I felt amazing, strong and above all HAPPY. At a time where I could have easily gone in the other direction, I managed to help myself through self-care and love. I nourished my body with everything it deserved. I was so passionate about how wonderful I felt I wanted to support others through their own struggles and help them make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle. I knew I could do this because I had gone through the changes myself. I 100% do not view this type of eating as a diet but as a lifestyle approach to food.
Honestly, I can say I felt amazing almost instantly, more energy, alert, I was losing pounds every week, my hair and skin started to glow. It truly did change my life and relationship with food forever. I was so pleased with my results and keen to learn more I went onto to study Nutrition.
It was at this point I decided to create Lose It and Love It, I wanted to help others achieve what I had with my health goals. My mission was to help my clients feel fabulous by nourishing their bodies with wholesome foods. My approach to weight loss, nutrition, my one to one coaching and accountability helps clients make lasting changes to their diet and lifestyle. I feel so privileged to have helped so many women make the change.
Life throws so many curve balls and that’s what life is about, right? I hope my personal journey has shown you that things have not been smooth sailing for me and that I struggle sometimes but I always know that if I focus on a healthy balance of exercise and good food I will feel better again very quickly. If you are struggling just now my biggest piece of advice is to start taking good care of YOU.