Gut Health – what is it and why do we need it?
One of the sort of buzz phrases we get asked about a lot is “Gut Health.” While this is quite an umbrella term, we all know the feeling when your gut is sluggish! Symptoms may include feeling tired, run down, lack of energy, bloated, constipated etc. There are so many ways your gut health can affect your entire body and mind. Having a healthy gut may also have an effect on your mental health. Studies are now showing a link between gut health and mental health. Did you know that 70% of people with depression also have gut issues? Did you ever feel worried about something and then find yourself getting an upset tummy? There is a definitely a link there.
So what can you do to help? While every person is different there are a few natural ways of improving your gut flora. However, if you are really feeling ill we do recommend you speak to a doctor, just to rule out any serious issues. It’s always better safe than sorry.
The word probiotic comes from the Greek language and is roughly translated as “support of life.” The two main ways to consume probiotics are in dietary supplements and in fermented foods. If you have been sick or run down or especially if you have been on antibiotics then a good probiotic may help restore gut flora. Basically probiotics are good bacteria that your gut needs to thrive. If you have had to take an antibiotic they wipe out both the good AND the bad bacteria, so while they will help with a particular illness they may leave you feeling wiped afterwards; which can affect your immune system and in turn leave you vulnerable to another illness. This is why so often people ended up on 2 or 3 courses of antibiotics and they get further and further run down. A probiotic supplement may help replenish “friendly” gut bacteria.
Udo’s choice is our top seller at the moment!
It contains eight different bacteria strains which are found in both the small and large intestines, lacto in the small and bifido in the large. By including strains from both families Super 8 ensures that your entire digestive system is covered. Particularly beneficial if you have been taking antibiotics.
Gut friendly foods: There are lots of foods that you can include in your diet that may help boost your gut flora.
Fermented foods especially the likes of sauerkraut, kimchi etc are excellent for gut health! Amberline is our preferred brand as they do a fantastic range of fermented foods and they are all handmade in Ireland.
Vegetables like garlic, leeks and onions are great sources and can be easily added to soups stews, stir frys etc.
Kefir is another huge seller for us in store, its a probiotic milk drink. We stock Blakes Organic Kefir which is made in Leitrim and is a really easy way to consume probiotics through a food source. We love supporting Irish products and this is definitely in iour top 10 bestsellers.
Apple Cider Vinegar contains prebiotics from the pectin present naturally in apples so it is another really good source, but if you drink it make sure to dilute it down beforehand as it is quite strong and can be very harsh on the oesophagus. Its also important to choose one that is unfiltered and “with the mother” to get the maximum benefits. We stock a great Irish one from Kilkenny called Highbank and we also offer refills as well if you bring in your own container, so its a great way to cut down on your single use products.
There are also a few things you can AVOID that can wreak havoc with gut health. A balanced and varied diet is super important so if you are a fussy eater, it means you are missing out on a range of diverse healthy foods you could be including. Drinking too much alcohol can also distrupt gut flora, so while the occasional drink is okay, having too many pints every weekend may not be helping matters and can inflame the gut. Cigarettes will also have the same detrimental effect. Lack of sleep means less recovery time for your body so this can also mess up your system, as can stress. While we need a certain level of stress in our lives even just to function on a day to day basis don’t forget to take time for yourself and look after both your body and mind!
We hoped this helps, and if you have any other questions please come in store to us or message us on our Facebook page! As always, don’t forget to check with a doctor if you are feeling unwell; its better safe than sorry. Digestive health can be a really tricky issue and often there isn’t one simple solution.