by Shona Vertue 

3rd May 2016

"All disease begins in the gut"

Despite the fact that Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, said this over 2000 years ago, this statement is still in alignment with the research of many studies today.

From obesity to IBS, DIabetes to Ulcrative Colitis, studies have shown that changes in gut health and the gut micro biome have been linked to various illnesses and autoimmune diseases.

In an effort to help you get the most from your body, keeping it disease free (and saving your bank balance from hefty medical bills) I want to share with you my top tips to improve your gut health today.

1. Chill Out - Stress affects our digestive system. In fact, a big part of the stress response is about inhibiting digestion to provide energy for life saving things like 'running away' or 'fighting' (hence the name, fight or flight mode). However us humans are capable of turning on the stress response by simply thinking about stressful situations. The body doesn't know the difference between the stresses from an actual life threatening danger, or the stress from just a mean boss - the same digestive inhibiting mechanisms are switched on. Finding ways to reduce stress, and increase joy is a very effective way to increase gut health.

2. Reduce Inflammation - Inflammation can cause prolonged damage to the intricate and semi permeable protective gut lining. This lining is incredibly important in protecting you from toxins, virus, undigested foods, yeast and nasty bacteria. However, elevated Cortisol levels (a common cause of inflammation) can, over time, increase the permeability of that lining effecting the efficiency of your digestive system. Herbs like turmeric and oregano, oils that are rich in Omega 3's, leafy greens and even garlic all support the reduction of inflammation within the body. 

3. Move your Asana - Yoga is not only about stretching and strengthening muscles. The asana (postures) themselves are designed to stimulate a lot of blood flow to the guy region. Certain moves aim to massage the digestive organs potentially increasing their functionality. In addition to yoga, exercise itself can have a positive affect on guy health as well. Although a complex process, heavily influenced by dietary choices, there is also some research to suggest that increased exercise can support the diversity of gut microbiota. 

4. Eat Your PRE-biotics - Most of us have heard of probiotics, they refer to the live bacteria that support the functioning of the gut, imperative for good health. So what is the best way to keep a colony of good bacteria in the gut? Feed them well! That's where prebiotics come into play. Probiotics are indigestible plant fibers that probiotics will feed off. Resistant starch foods like cooked white potatoes or raw (slightly green) bananas resist being digested and therefore make it all the way down to the large intestine where the probiotics can eat them. The theory is that feeding them, like most living things will keep them healthy and happy.

5. Trust Your Gut - At the end of the day, only you really know (and can feel) the reactions your gut has towards your food and drink consumption. Paying more attention to the symptoms your gut gives upon eating, drinking, sleeping and even exercising is incredibly important. As with all the tips I have provided you with above, it's really important to make an educated choice based not only on science, but also on what you personally experience.