If you’ve ever uttered the words, ‘I’ve got a gut feeling about this’ or ‘I’ve got butterflies in my stomach’, you’ll understand the connection between your gut and your brain. What you may not know is that there is a real biological link between them.
The gut is home to an important part of the nervous system, and contains over 100 million nerve cells. These line the gastrointestinal tract, and help digest food and control blood flow. They are the reason we can ‘feel’ what is happening in the gut.
The gut is also home to part of the immune system, in the form of gut bacteria. These bacteria also communicate with the nerve cells.
One of the most common causes of discomfort during the digestive process is stress. Typically, once the stressful stimuli go away, your gut will return to normal. But ongoing stress can cause chronic inflammation, increasing the harmful bacteria in your gut.
Inflammation is a leading cause of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, which is why it is so important to control it. The right nutrition can be very helpful in reducing inflammation in the body, but how do you achieve it?
A good place to start is with your levels of vitamin D3. Vitamin D is responsible for the normal function of the immune system, so see your GP for a blood test if you suspect you have changes to your gut health or you don’t get enough sunshine. You may be advised to take a supplement if deficiency is found.
Botanical extracts like green tea are known to have antioxidant properties and may maintain healthy gut flora. It can be drunk as tea, or taken as a green tea polyphenol supplement.
Curcumin, the extract from the Indian spice turmeric may contribute to digestive comfort and is an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric, in the form of powder or fresh root, can be added to stews, curries and vegetables, and also to nut milk for a warming, latte-style drink.
Altruvita Happy Tum contains vitamin D, curcumin and green tea. Click here to find out more.
What we eat affects all our organs, but it’s the gut that has to deal most directly with our dietary choices. A poor diet, high in processed foods, can cause constipation and inflammation, and could lead to more serious conditions.
How do we look after our gut? The traditional Mediterranean diet (without the processed meats) is one answer: high in fruit, vegetables and omega-3 oils, but low in saturated fat, sugar and processed food.
We can also show our gut some love by eating individual nutrients that support gut health.
Curcumin is a compound from the spice turmeric and can reduce inflammation and support digestive comfort. Turmeric isn’t only good in curries – it’s also great sprinkled on eggs and green vegetables, and stirred into milk as a night time drink.
Green Tea contains antioxidant compounds and is a good choice to replace our regular tea or coffee. It may also help maintain healthy gut flora.
Eat a rainbow diet, full of different coloured vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and pulses. Fibre helps the bowel to contract and each colour provides us with different nutrients.
Pre- and pro-biotics: prebiotic foods like onions, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, asparagus and chicory are favourites of the bacteria that live in our guts. And the live bacteria found in probiotic yogurts, drinks and supplements are super-friendly to our digestive systems.
Get more calcium from foods like green vegetables, dairy products and some fish. It’s good for our bowels and strengthens our bones at the same time.
Part of our immune system is in the gut, as gut bacteria. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to immune health. We need more Vitamin D than we usually get from sunlight and we can boost our intake through oily fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy products.
And of course…
Don’t forget to exercise.
Physical activity is great because it gets the bowel moving. We might not want to think about it too much, but the longer waste sits in our bowels, the more likely we are to develop problems.
Tried and tested.
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“I did a fair bit of research on the quality of vitamin D supplements on the market and Altruvita looked by far the best. This is actually my second order and although I was surrounded by ill people all Christmas I sailed through without a sniffle. Highly recommend.”
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