The key to good health is not what you eat, it is what you digest and absorb. Gut health is key to sustaining overall health as the gut turns the food we eat into fuel. Even if your diet is clean and green, your body will not absorb the all those nourishing nutrients if your gut sluggish. When the gut is firing optimally it will boost energy levels and replenish the immune system, keeping disease at bay.
Prominent wellness advisor and clinical nutritionist Jessica Sepel talked to ClassPass about why gut health had become such a hot topic and dished out her top five tips for a happy and healthy gut.
“In my opinion, gut health has become a more prominent health issue because of increased stress levels and the pressure women place on ourselves. We’re also eating a lot of foods that don’t support the good bacteria in our gut (e.g. not eating enough fibre, eating too much refined sugar). When our guts aren’t in balance it can result in reflux, IBS, constipation, discomfort and bloating” Sepel said.
Sepel advises adding more probiotics into your diet. Our gut is populated with a diverse array of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria – probiotics are live strains of bacteria and yeast that keep the balance on the good side. Probiotics can be added to your diet by eating more naturally fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut or by taking a probiotic supplement.
Stress is a natural part of everyday life but it often plays too big of a role. Sepel believes that stress is the root of most health conditions and the gut is no exception.
While reducing stress may seem easier said than done, simple steps like actively scheduling in time to rest can help. There can be a social pressure to keep on the go, but it is important to schedule in some time each day that is just for you and free from phone, TV or computer screens. Meditation and yoga can help keep stress levels at bay – there are loads of opportunities to explore yoga and meditation on ClassPass!
Stress and the gut can be closely related as the feel good hormone serotonin is created in the gut (in addition to the brain). The happier your gut, the easier it is for it to create serotonin, which can make you happier too!
Add apple cider vinegar to your diet
A time old household remedy, apple cider vinegar stimulates stomach acid which fires up digestive enzymes. It also stimulates bile flow and is antimicrobial which is great for people with candida (yeast) overgrowth. Plus it’s cheap and easy! Try starting each day with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and warm water.
Sepel advises supplementing with glutamine, aloe vera and slippery elm, all of which are very healing and soothing for the gut.
Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in dietary protein. It is a prominent supplement in any bodybuilding section but it is also an effective intestinal and immune system health compound. Aloe vera is a liquid or gel extracted from a succulent plant, the gel is usually used for sunburn while the liquid may be drunk to improve gut health. Slippery elm is an native Native American herbal remedy for digestive woes and is typically found as a powder which is mixed with water to activate its health properties.
Eat more fiber
Sepel suggests adding more fibre into your diet. Fiber rich psyllium husk is a key go-to, as anyone that has ever juice cleansed knows. Leafy greens, flaxseed, beans and legumes are all fibre rich foods that are easy to sneak into any diet.