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Ready to Stop Ignoring the Signals from your Gut? Well, here are 5 Ways to Improve your Gut Health!

By Natalie Hume
from Natalie Hume - Naturopath

Your gut and your microbiome are always in communication with your body and what goes into your body. So, what signals and symptoms could your gut be sending you to tell you that it may need some extra love and care?

Bloating, flatulence, indigestion, reflux, gut pain, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, poor sleep, acne. Imbalance in your gut microbiome can also develop into more serious inflammatory conditions or auto-immune conditions like IBD.

There could be many reasons as to why your gut is not happy with you! Like having too many take away meals or processed food. Going through a stressful time or having chronic stress and anxiety. Consuming excess alcohol and eating foods you can’t tolerate and know you will be a bloated mess by the end of the day. A recent tummy bug or virus, and they have been going around! Antibiotics or medications that disrupt your gut microbiome, and not moving your body enough.

This imbalance in diet, lifestyle and having illnesses can disrupt your trillions of gut bugs aka your gut microbiome causing dysbiosis (overgrowth and imbalance of bad bacteria) and many other diseases.

But never fear a balanced gut microbiome can promote health and well-being! So how can you achieve this?

Here are some simple ways you can start to improve your gut health now!

  1. Improve your diet

Enjoy a wide variety of fibre-rich whole foods, fresh fruit, and vegetables……eat that rainbow! You can also include microbiome loving foods like berries, bananas, kiwi fruit, green vegetables, cocoa, green tea, cooked lentils, cooked and cooled potato’s, uncooked rolled oats. You should also take the time to sit down to eat, not rush and chew your food thoroughly. If you guzzle your food your digestive enzymes in your saliva won’t get the chance to do their job and start to digest your food.

At the same time, you will also need to reduce foods that can disrupt your gut microbes like alcohol, sugar, processed food, take out and any food allergies or intolerances.

  1. Chill out!

High levels of uncontrolled stress have been shown to reduce the abundance of healthy gut microbes. By supporting the Vagus Nerve (the nerve that helps our body find balance between rest and digest or flight and fight) you can reduce stress, improve your gut microbiome and reduce inflammation. A low vagal tone has been shown in patients with IBS and IBD.

Some simple ways to reduce stress and improve your vagal tone are:

  • Getting outside in nature. Studies have shown that walking in nature can reduce anxiety and depression.
  • Daily meditation/mindfulness by using apps like Calm, InsightTimer, Headspace, The Art of Living
  • Humming, chanting, gargling is also amazing for toning your Vagus Nerve!
  1. Get more Sleep!

If you have trouble sleeping, getting poor quality sleep, or not sleeping enough you could be negatively impacting your gut microbiome. In one study it showed that your sleep efficiency was directly correlated to having a significant and positive effect on microbiome diversity.

For many it can be bad habits that are causing us to have a bad night’s sleep. Having a good sleep routine is important!

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and waking up in the morning at the same time can help establish a healthy routine to get your 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Reduce exposure to phones and screens as the blue light can be stimulating and interfere with melatonin (a hormone that helps with sleep) production. It is suggested to not use electronic devises 1-2 hours before going to bed.
  • Maybe don’t have that coffee after midday and switch to caffeine-free herbal teas.
  1. Get moving!

Exercise not only improves your mood and reduces stress, but it has also been found to have a positive effective on increasing the diversity of your microbiome. In patients with IBS they found that exercise not only reduced IBS symptoms like bloating, pain and frequency, it also improved the TJ (Tight Junction) on the gut barrier. They found the positive impact on exercise also increased species that increased SCFA (important for maintaining gut health) production and diversity in the microbiome. You also have the added benefit of reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It truly is the Gut-Brain in connection with each other!

  1. Have a health team supporting you!

By working with a naturopath to look at the causative factors behind your symptoms. After a thorough case taking initial appointment, the recommendation of functional tests may be needed to show what is happening in your gut microbiome. A naturopath can then tailor a treatment plan specific to you to treat you as a whole person. This may include removing dysbiosis, SIBO or SIFO, reducing inflammation, healing your gut lining, get your bowels moving, improving your digestive enzymes, reduce stress and look at possible contributing lifestyle factors. There are also evidence-based probiotics stains that have been shown to promote commensal gut microbes and your naturopath can work out what ones are the best for you.

Oh, and one last thing stay hydrated! Aim to drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day, this may also include herbal teas.

More about the author

Natalie Hume 2023
Natalie Hume
– Natalie Hume - Naturopath

Hi I’m Nat, your Hills District-based Naturopath with an online practice.

My journey into naturopathy was deeply personal. As a teenager, I grappled with digestive issues of my own that led to a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. This ultimately guided me to discover the incredible power of natural medicine through herbs and supplements, a diet rich in nutritious delicious foods and stress reducing lifestyle modifications.

I firmly believe that optimal gut health is a cornerstone of overall well-being.

In my practice, I focus on addressing a wide range of gastrointestinal and digestive concerns, encompassing IBS, IBD, leaky gut, dysbiosis, bloating, and digestive pain. These issues can manifest as food intolerances, compromised immunity, hormonal imbalance and skin conditions like eczema. I also focus on stress management and adrenal support, aiming to enhance sleep quality, lifestyle and dietary advice to help you sustain energy levels throughout the day.

My involvement in the natural medicine industry spans 20 years, where I supported practitioners in their clinics, enabling them to achieve outstanding results with their patients. For the last few years, I have had the privilege to work at In Natures Hands, and now get to continue what I love in my own online practice, to help empower you to reclaim your health.