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Our gut is the ‘second brain’ of our body, full of trillions of microorganisms keeping us healthy and thriving. It’s closely tied to everything about our wellbeing – from digesting food and absorbing nutrients, to powering our immune system and even affecting how we feel.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my gut health journey is that a diverse and balanced microbiome is key to maintaining optimal digestive function. This means having an abundance of beneficial bacteria, as well as a variety of different strains.
When our gut is happy, we feel energised, balanced and ready to take on the world. But when it’s out of sync, we may experience symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and even skin and mood issues.
I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes for supporting gut health and in particular, constipation, along with 10 tried-and-tested tips that have helped me reset and revitalise my digestive system.
Banana Bread Overnight Oats
Not only is this such an easy and delicious breakfast to whip together, it will also leave your gut feeling happy thanks to the fibre-rich chia seeds, oats and our gut-loving JSHealth Vitamins Protein + Probiotics formula which contains the probiotic strain Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (LGG) to support healthy digestion.
- ½ banana, sliced
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- Sprinkle of crushed walnuts, optional
- Extra sprinkle of cinnamon
Combine the mashed banana, oats, chia seeds and protein powder in a bowl or jar. Whisk to combine. Pour in the milk and whisk again.
Place the oats in the fridge for 30 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. I like to make mine the night before, ready to grab and go in the morning.
Remove from the fridge and loosen with some additional milk if needed. Top with sliced banana, peanut butter, cinnamon and a sprinkle of walnuts, if desired. Enjoy!
My 10 tips for a transformative gut healing protocol
Ready for your New Year gut reset? Here are my top tips to get you started on your journey towards a happier gut…
- Eat wholefoods: I simply can’t emphasise this enough. Eating a whole foods-based diet means eating foods in their most natural and unprocessed form – exactly what our bodies were designed to digest. Avoid processed foods and stick to lean, organic proteins; healthy fats, plenty of greens, nuts, seeds and pulses.
- Chew mindfully: Digestion begins in the mouth, and chewing your food thoroughly helps to break down food particles into smaller pieces that are easier for your body to digest. This also allows saliva to mix with the food, which contains enzymes that aid in digestion. Once the food enters the stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes work to break it down into small particles, which travel to the small intestine and allow the nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Slow down and take your time to chew each bite.
- Trial a gluten-free diet: Gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley, can be hard to digest for those with sensitive guts. I encourage many of my clients to give up gluten for a trial period of two to four weeks. Try this and see how your body responds. In my experience, many people report feeling lighter without gluten; their gut functions better and their energy starts to increase. If you do decide to go gluten-free, I recommend avoiding processed foods and sticking to a wholefoods diet. You can find plenty of gluten-free recipes in the JSHealth App!
- Limit caffeine intake: Consuming too much caffeine can cause a spike in cortisol, so I recommend having one coffee a day, after breakfast and before 10am. This is when your cortisol levels are at their highest, so the effects of caffeine will be minimised. If you find yourself relying on caffeine to get through the day, try swapping out your coffee for herbal tea or decaffeinated options.
- Avoid processed foods and artificial sugars: Processed foods, especially those high in added sugars and artificial ingredients, can be difficult for the gut to digest. This includes refined sugar, pre-packaged foods, soda, chewing gum and artificial sweeteners. These foods can also disrupt the balance of good bacteria in your gut and contribute to inflammation.
- Enjoy probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics are live bacteria that promote gut health and aid in digestion. They can be found in fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut and kefir – great for the gut in reducing inflammation, supporting digestion and enhancing metabolism.
- Optimise digestive enzymes: Digestive enzymes are essential for breaking down food and allowing your body to absorb the nutrients. Having good amounts of hydrochloric acid in the stomach helps to break down food, thereby aiding digestion. I recommend sipping on two litres of water with a dash of apple cider vinegar throughout the day.
- Keep a 20-minute gap between eating and drinking: Drinking too much water before eating can dilute the gastric juices in the stomach and hamper digestion and proper absorption. I recommend having two glasses of water 20 minutes before each meal to keep you hydrated.
- Promote diversity in your gut microbiome: Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help you to process your food, produce nutrients and fight disease. To keep your gut microbiome diverse, incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes into your diet. When your gut is populated with healthy flora, your wellbeing blooms effortlessly. To support your gut, I recommend taking a high quality multi-strain probiotic, under the guidance of a medical practitioner.
- Eliminate stress and prioritise rest: Chronic stress disrupts the balance of bacteria in your gut and can lead to digestive issues. Take time each day to engage in relaxing activities, such as meditation, yoga or reading. Be sure to prioritise quality sleep, which helps your body rest and repair to its fullest potential. Find my tried and tested 5-step sleepy ritual here – this routine combines mindfulness, relaxation, and sleep-promoting techniques that can positively impact your gut health by reducing stress levels.
Nurturing the health of your gut is an integral part of maintaining overall wellbeing and requires that you show yourself patience and kindness. It’s all of the small changes that lead to big impacts!
A flourishing gut environment will not only enhance your digestion but will also be a catalyst for a vibrant, energetic life. By honouring and supporting your body’s inner ecosystem, you care for yourself in the most fundamental way.