How To Improve Your Gut Health Naturally
By Carla Oates
There’s no question that our gut holds the key to our overall health, wellness and beauty. But unfortunately, we can often neglect to nurture our gut health as it is somewhat out of sight, out of mind.
Since launching The Beauty Chef and our range of bio-fermented wholefood inner beauty products over 10 years ago, I’ve been passionate about sharing my knowledge as well as the latest research surrounding gut health, our microbiome and the beauty of bacteria. And the good news is, that even if you have struggled with your gut health in the past, there are so many things you can do to bolster, boost and improve your gut microbiome—naturally.
To help inspire you to take care of your gut microbes and foster improved gut health, here are a few simple nutrition and lifestyle tips to set you on your way...
Focus On Fibre To Feed Your Gut Microbes
I speak about the importance of fibre frequently—and for good reason. Dietary fibre—which is found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds—is unquestionably one of the most powerful ways we can influence our overall health, diversify our microbial composition and improve our gut health. This is because when dietary fibre arrives in the large intestine, it begins to ferment with the help of beneficial bacteria and enzymes, breaking it down so that it becomes more easily digestible. The by-product of this fermentation process, however, is where the true magic happens! Anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids—such as acetate, propionate and butyrate—which are produced during this fermentation process are powerful compounds that research shows have incredible gut, immune, metabolic and brain health benefits.
On the flip side, when we starve our gut flora of fibre, research shows that we may potentially trigger inflammation instead. This is why it’s essential to include a variety of polyphenol and fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds in our diet daily to encourage the proliferation of SCFAs. Inulin (from artichokes, leeks and onions) and pectin (from apples and pears) are both good examples of fibre sources that help to promote SCFA production.
Eat More Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are at the heart of The Beauty Chef and, in my opinion, are one of the simplest and most profound ways we can improve our gut health and overall wellbeing naturally. While there are many different methods of fermentation—I have seen for myself the beauty and health benefits of lacto-fermented foods which use the Lactobacillus species of bacteria. Lacto-fermented foods help to improve bioavailability and the digestibility of foods, as when foods are fermented, they are effectively ‘predigested’ by gut microbiota—making the nutrients easier for the body to assimilate and utilise. Fermented foods also provide the gut with a healthy dose of probiotic beneficial bacteria—as well as prebiotics and postbiotics—but unlike over the counter probiotic supplements which often only contain a few species or strains, fermented foods are naturally rich in a variety of bacterial species and strains. The probiotic benefits of fermented foods include helping to support intestinal barrier function, modulating the immune system, balancing blood sugar, reducing and combating inflammation in the gut and improving digestion and detoxification.
Good examples of fermented probiotic foods include kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and cultured yoghurt—as well as The Beauty Chef's range of inner beauty products, of course.
Our gut and brain are intimately connected, communicating with one another via the gut-brain axis—so it’s no wonder that high levels of stress can affect our gut bacteria and manifest itself in a myriad of gut health symptoms from bloating and constipation to leaky gut and IBS. In fact, research has linked stress to gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Not to mention that stress can actually alter the balance of healthy bacteria in our gut and damage the delicate gut lining. Given that the gut-brain axis works both ways, it’s not surprising then that dysbiosis—or an imbalance of good bacteria and bad bacteria—can also directly contribute to stress and affect our mental health. The influx of cortisol that is released when we feel stressed can also affect digestion—slowing the release of digestive juices and diverting blood away from the digestive tract.
To improve our gut health, it’s therefore essential that we learn to manage our stress. While eating a varied, balanced diet that focuses on real foods as opposed to processed foods is of the utmost importance, putting lifestyle practices in place to help you stay on top of your stress is also vital. Getting enough sleep, practising mindfulness, incorporating gentle exercise into your day and even practising gratitude are all scientifically proven ways to help manage stress.
Soothe And Restore Your Healthy Gut
Although prevention is always better than cure—if you’re dealing with gut health symptoms or an ongoing gut health condition such as leaky gut, it’s essential to address it as soon as possible. This is why I created GUT PRIMER™ Inner Beauty Support—our restorative gut powder supplement designed to support a healthy digestive system whilst also soothing and repairing the delicate gut lining. Containing ingredients such as slippery elm and milk thistle—which have been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine for leaky gut—as well as turmeric to help relieve inflammation and support digestive health—this revolutionary blend can be enjoyed on its own or as part of your existing inner beauty routine to help bolster and improve your gut health.
While we always recommend speaking with your healthcare practitioner before making any dietary or lifestyle changes—if you have been diagnosed with a gut health condition such as leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), SIBO or gastritis, then adding GUT PRIMER™ to your daily routine is a great way to holistically support your gut health and combat symptoms of leaky gut.