Improve your wellbeing with these simple steps to nurture your gut using probiotic-rich foods and supplements

by Gillian Day

Whilst we’re in a new year, many of us still trying to digest and recover from last year. If your gut is starting to give you signs it might need a little bit of loving, you’re definitely not alone.

Poor gut health symptoms...

Bloating, belching, discomfort and pain, that nauseas feeling, headaches, constipation, diarrhoea, zero energy, craving sugar, low moods, weight gain and intolerance to food... as a Naturopath I’ve heard it all.

You may not necessarily think straight away of your gut bacteria and microbiome when you experience some or all of these symptoms, however it can be a great place to start when wanting to relieve symptoms, to heal and nurture the gut from the inside out.

What is gut microbiome?

Your gut microbiome acts as an important interface between you and the environment we’re exposed to each and every day. Everything we eat and drink, all the environmental toxins, viruses and bacteria we're exposed to, are all tempered in some way by our gut and the bacteria that live in it.

A healthy gut can have 1000+ different types of bacteria living in it. Many of these different strains can be helpful, but some can definitely be harmful to health, and cause many of the above symptoms; so a balance between good and bad is critically important to your overall health.

Probiotic-rich foods

Consuming foods which contain naturally high levels of living organisms known as probiotics will help to increase the actual ‘number’ of live bacteria in your gut. Thankfully there are loads of options when it comes to supporting our gut microbiome and the good bacteria that reside there.

Fermented foods

Fermented foods you should consider adding to your diet are:

  • Kefir
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Natto
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha

Make your own fermented foods and drinks

Kombucha and kefir provide so many health benefits and are easy to add in to many meals in an everyday diet. View our fermented foods and drinks product range to get started with making your own kombucha and kefir.

Probiotic supplement 

Most new clients I see in clinic leave with a prescription for a superior quality probiotic, and there are many studies to support their use in everyday life. When considering a probiotic supplement, you need to make sure it contains scientifically-proven strains and amounts of bacteria, to be assured it will be effective.

The most well-researched strains include Lactobacillus acidophilusLactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-04, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 & Saccharomyces boulardii. It’s also important that your probiotic can demonstrate it can survive the high-acid conditions of the stomach and reach the intestines intact, otherwise it will be ineffective.

I recommend Amazonia Raw Probiotic supplement

Starve the unhealthy bacteria

Just as important as nourishing the ‘good guys’, it’s important to reduce foods that act as fuel to unhealthy bacteria and damage the gut. No surprises here but these include:

  • Added sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • All refined and processed foods

Reduce the occurrence of symptoms of indigestion and relieve abdominal bloating with PPC Herbs Canda-Plex Herbal Remedy.

Oregano Oil is a heavily researched herb that can be a great support to rid the body of detrimental bacteria. One study found the essential oil from oregano was beneficial as it stopped the growth of a number of detrimental bacterial strains, including E.coli, Klebsiella pneumonia and Listeria monocytogenes. Other studies found oregano oil to completely inhibit the growth of Candida albicans.

How to feed your gut good guys... Prebiotics!

We need food to survive, and so do our gut bacteria. We can feed this bacteria food to thrive, or we can feed them rubbish. There are certain foods and nutrients that ‘feed’ the actual number of bacteria; these are known as ‘prebiotics’.

Foods rich in prebiotics include asparagus, bananas, onions, garlic, cabbage, beans and lentils, artichokes, root vegetables such as beetroot and parsnips and apples.

Slippery Elm is a very safe herb I regularly prescribe to clients as its a powerful prebiotic. It is so beneficial to relieve everything to do with ‘mucous membranes in the body’ – think everything from heartburn, constipation, diarrhoea, recovery from tummy bugs and can also help to soothe and protect the respiratory tract and reduce coughing. 

Antibiotics ONLY when necessary

I’m so grateful we live in a world where antibiotics are available. There are life savers, when used appropriately. But it’s important to understand that antibiotics wipe out both good and bad bacteria; so it’s crucial to take them only when necessary. Sadly, I see time and time again, clients with severely damaged guts as they have been given multiple doses of antibiotics over many months, if not years. One client was even on antibiotics for a decade non-stop due to hormonal acne!!

Whenever you do need to take an antibiotic, make sure you follow this up with a high-strength probiotic supplement containing scientifically proven strains to replenish your beneficial gut microflora. In addition, be particularly vigilant with your diet both during and after antibiotics. This is the time you really want to make sure you consume plenty of prebiotic foods that will help the good bacteria to repopulate the gut.

Minimise exposure to environmental & lifestyle toxins 

Our good bacteria are extremely vulnerable to damage by many lifestyle and environmental factors. It’s thought in the modern world, we are exposed to 200+ environmental chemicals before we leave home for work. These come from:

  • Chlorinated and fluoridated water
  • Antibacterial soaps
  • Agricultural chemicals and pesticides
  • Pollution
  • Stress
  • Food additives
  • Phthalates released from plastics
  • Heavy metals
  • Mould
  • Contaminated fish

It’s really important to assess your exposure to these factors and then take steps to minimise wherever possible.

Regular relaxation is key as stress is so damaging for good bacteria and can kill off our gut lining. Yoga and mindfulness are ancient rituals that have modern evidence to support their usefulness to reduce stress and support overall health and wellbeing. Exercise increases levels of butyrate, a compound (also known as a short chain fatty acid/SCFA) produced by gut bacteria that supports immunity.

Stress

When our bodies are in a constant fight or flight response on a long-term basis, it’s almost always felt in our gut (thanks to the gut-brain axis). Stress is linked to so many conditions in the gut including inflammatory bowel disease/IBD, irritable bowel syndrome/IBS, peptic ulcers, reflux, allergies, intolerances and more.

Being under stress reduces the number and diversity and strength of our microbiome and in turn, poor gut health can trigger and/or exacerbate mental health symptoms including anxiety, depression; the list goes on.

Stress support product range

If you would like to speak with me regarding your gut health, I offer a free 10-minute initial Naturopathy consultation. Click this link to make a naturopath initial consultation booking.

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