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A Gut Feeling

I’ve got a gut feeling! We have known for a long time that the gut doesn’t just provide nutrients to our body. The gut is good at communicating with the body to tell us when something isn’t quite right. Warning symptoms include bloating, irregular bowl movements and pain or cramping. 

Wider gut-driven issues can also include skin problems, allergies, joint pain, brain fog and autoimmune issues. As musculoskeletal practitioners, we often see people complain of joint pain fuelled by bad diets. 

The gut communicates through its inner ecosystem.  These microbes (our microbiome) not only help us break down our foods, but also control our immune system function, regulate inflammation and interact closely with our brain.

If you have an unhappy gut, try improving your digestive health: 

Give Your Gut a Rest

A gut that is constantly working to digest food, doesn’t get a chance to rest and repair. Extending the gap between eating can really help. Have an early dinner – say at 5/6pm, and try to leave at least 16 hours until you eat again, having breakfast at 9/10am. Alternatively finish eating at 8pm and don’t eat again til mid day. This is called intermittent fasting and can safely be done as often as you like. 

Start Your Day with Water and Lemon

Warm water with a squeeze of lemon can help the liver which works closely with the gut to extract nutrients and detox the body. 

Eliminate Sugar

Sugar can cause havoc, feeding yeasts and bad bacteria in the gut helping them to thrive. Unrefined carbohydrates with their fibre intact, like brown rice, beans and vegetables are better. The sugar in fruit is accompanied by natural fibre and vitamins so it’s a better form of sugar than processed sugar. Eating the intact whole fruit, rather than crushed into a smoothie or as a sugar-rich juice is healthier. Berry fruits are full of beneficial antioxidants and relatively low in sugar so opt for these when you have the choice.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods contain millions of bacteria which help your gut bacteria to thrive. Try sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir. 

Consider Probiotics

Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria which may be missing from your gut. They can be helpful at restoring balance to your intestines along with healthy eating. It’s better to have a probiotic that has 5 billion CFU (colony forming units). 

Reduce Wheat

Wheat is widespread in the modern diet, with most people eating it multiple times a day. Many people’s guts struggle with the sheer amount consumed. Gluten intolerance is widely blamed, but in many cases, the problem is simply eating too much wheat. Modern wheat has been selectively developed to contain huge amounts of gluten. This is a tricky protein to digest and can cause your digestive lining to become permeable. This means it is less effective at allowing beneficial substances through into your bloodstream and keeping unwanted substances out. Gluten-free bread and biscuits are often just highly processed foods and contain other grains and modified fats which aren’t good either.Instead of a sandwich at lunchtime, opt for a colourful salad with beans. packed full of beneficial nutrients and fibre.

Manage Your Stress

Stress has a profound effect on your gut and can affect the microbiome and cause havoc on your immune system. Reducing stress in your life is easier said than done, but you do have the power to change how you react to stress. This involves learning techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness, and using tools including yoga and meditation. 

At Back in Shape, we always do our utmost best to make sure our patients feel great. Making little changes at home with your diet and getting your regular muscle and joint check ups in clinic can really help keep pain and injury at bay! 

Elizabeth Garvey
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