I saw The Gut Movie recently and it really reinforced the role gut health in pretty much everything – inflammation, allergies/intolerances, mental health. It’s a documentary about gut health, and examines Kale Brock’s gut health before and after a week with a remote tribe who still live off the land.
Afterwards there was a panel of local practitioners for a Q&A session, and between the documentary and the panel I came away with an even greater respect for gut health (plus some interesting tips), so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways along with some simple ways to improve gut health.
The importance of good gut health
Gut health is EXTREMELY integral to wellness in all aspects. Like, really, really important. Improving gut health can help to decrease inflammation, increase immunity, reduce intolerances and allergies, and improve mental health. There’s a pathway from the gut directly to the brain that’s basically like a phone-line, and what gets communicated depends on whether there’s more good or bad bacteria to send the message.
Diversity of gut bacteria is important
Even if you have more good bacteria than bad, most of us don’t have a wide range of different bacteria because we’re so disconnected from the earth and our food, plus we’re “too clean”. Diversity of the gut microbiome is really important as each different bug plays a different role.
Foods for gut health
Some great foods for good gut health include fermented foods and probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi (if you like spicy!), yoghurt and kefir (ideally with coconut milk if you’re avoiding dairy), kombucha, and probiotics. It’s important to start slowly, so here are my top tips for introducing fermented foods.
Get your hands dirty
Interacting with soil and nature is a great way to improve and diversify gut health. Plant some veggies, make pictures in the dirt, get some soil under your nails, some fresh air in your lungs, and some sun on your face. We’re so disconnected from nature these days and it’s really not good for us.
Eating organic produce is important because it doesn’t contain nasty pesticides that kill your gut bacteria as well as whatever’s on the produce. Reducing our exposure to pesticides and chemicals is another way to help reduce inflammation in the body, and was one of the key steps in my own journey to better health.
Get the seasonal fruit and veg box
Not only do organic seasonal fruit and veg boxes help you eat foods that are in season, but there are generally a few things in there that you wouldn’t usually buy or try. This is a good thing because it’s a good way to try different foods and vary your diet, which helps with gut health and nutrition.
Make & swap your own fermented foods
Making your own fermented foods is a great way to get more good bugs into your system, and it’s super easy. Swapping fermented foods with a friend is also a great way to get some different bugs in your system – it sounds kinda icky to some, but your friend’s sauerkraut or kombucha will have some slightly different bacteria to yours, so it’s a good way to diversify your gut health.
Poop transplants are a thing! A really good thing!
Poop transplants are showing amazing results and are possibly the future of treatments for many diseases! Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMTs) can significantly alter the gut of the recipient and help with a wide range of conditions, from mental and neural conditions (MS was mentioned), to allergies and auto-immune conditions (eg. endometriosis), and everything in between. There are even suggestions that altering the gut microbiome could improve athletic ability or help with weight-loss! (I was also reading that there are many places trying to create artificial poop for transplanting!)
There’s so much to learn, but even just changing one thing for a week can have a huge impact.
Top tip though – go SLOWLY with any gut related activities, die-off symptoms are not fun. (Speaking from experience!) Check out my top tips for introducing fermented foods for more info.
I’d love to know your thoughts. How do you look after your gut health?