We are what we eat. A dysfunctional gut can wreak havoc on your health, leaving you bloated and uncomfortable. The good news is, it’s easy to treat your gut better…
Is a grumpy gut getting you down?
Poor intestinal health and toxic bacteria in the gut can lead to diabetes, obesity, arthritis, hormonal imbalances,
migraines, allergies, eczema, autoimmune disease and chronic fatigue. Your gut flora protects the body from
infection, and regulates your metabolism.
But many factors lead to unhealthy gut flora, including antibiotics, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and
stress. They damage the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, making it more permeable. This leak can lead to inflammation in
the gut, allergies, skin conditions and weight gain.
Symptoms of a bad gut
If you experience excessive gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, burping, constipation, burning in
the stomach, bad breath and nausea, you probably have an unhealthy gut. A gut imbalance may lead to mental
issues like anxiety, skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. In cases where these symptoms are extreme, it’s time to visit your doctor.
Healthy gut 101
You can stop a bad GI cycle by eliminating the foods that cause irritation in the gut. Eliminate these from your diet for up to three weeks, and then reintroduce them gradually, to determine those that are causing discomfort. Possible culprits include:
- wheat and gluten
- onions, tomatoes, brinjals
- processed foods
Replace these foods with those that can help heal your gut. A healthy gut is made by balancing good and bad bacteria. Increase your intake of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, and add aloe vera and turmeric to your diet – they all assist good bacteria. Probiotics will also help to restore your gut. Prebiotics such as yoghurt and sauerkraut feed friendly bacteria and inoculate your gut with healthy live microorganisms. Cinnamon and mint soothe the stomach and relax the GI tract.
Avoid toxins. They help bad bacteria to grow, and break down your gut lining. Grains, dairy, sugars and unhealthy oils may all be toxic to your GI system.
Eat a balanced diet. Make sure your diet is made up predominantly of vegetables, proteins and fruit, and you’ll aid
your good bacteria.
Manage stress. You’ll reduce inflammation of the GI tract, lower levels of cortisol, and improve your gut health.
Bloating can be frustrating, embarrassing and uncomfortable. But there are a few ways to prevent it…
Increase potassium intake. Foods like asparagus and citrus help reduce water retention caused from eating
too much salt.
Exercise. It can stimulate the bowels, putting an end to constipation.
Hydrate. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day to flush out waste and reduce water retention.
Drink peppermint tea. It relaxes the digestive system and eases stomach pain.
Cut out excess salt. It causes fluid to accumulate between cells and in the circulatory system, causing water retention.
Add fibre. Prebiotics found in fibre-rich food help probiotics thrive inside your intestines.
Drink rooibos tea. It’s filled with flavonoids that have a calming effect on the digestive system, soothing
FEATURE: TARYN ARNOTT VAN JAARSVELD PHOTOS: FOTOLIA.COM