What comes to your mind when someone talks about gut health? Would having no digestive symptoms equate to having healthy gut?
Having no digestive symptoms (like bloating, cramps and constipation) does not necessary mean that your gut is healthy. Many gut-linked health issues manifest in symptoms that seemingly have nothing to do with digestion, such as:
- joint pain
- fatigue and brain fog
- mood swings, anxiety and depression
Moreover, we know that poor gut health may contribute to chronic diseases, neurological disorders, autoimmune conditions and certain cancers.
Diverse gut microbiome with healthy levels of beneficial microbes and absence of pathogens would be playing a key role in your gut health. There are so many factors affecting our gut microbiome and gut health, such as:
- whether we are born via C-section vs natural birth
- gut health of our mothers
- breastfeeding vs bottle feeding
- growing up on a farm vs urban area
- drugs (both medical and recreational)
- diseases and infections
- stress levels
We can’t do much about many of these factors, such as the way we are born or ageing. But we certainly can make a positive impact to our gut health by:
- Eating a varied diet rich in fibre and polyphenols. Aim for at least 30g fibre daily and 30 different plants weekly.
- Managing your stress levels. We can’t remove stress from our lives, but we certainly can manage it effectively.
- Moving daily, whether it’s a gym workout, walk in nature or cleaning. The NHS recommendation is 150 min of moderate exercise weekly – which only equates to 20-25 min per day!
- Sleeping 7-9h without interruption. Greatly underrated area for gut health.
And if you are curious about the make-up of your microbiome and other gut health markers, then you could consider stool testing.
In good health,