The #1 mistake you're making when eating for gut health

I don't know about you guys, but I am all about trying to eat for better gut health around here. After years of abusing my poor gut with sugar, alcohol, coffee, stress and a very lengthy eating disorder, I’m making a tremendous effort to repair, restore and reduce the bloat and more importantly address the reasons why I get bloated in the first place. Why? Because when my gut is happy, I’m happy.

I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner and a naturopath to help things along, but have also had to make changes to my diet and daily habits to ensure I stay on top of things. I was blown away by how many mistakes I was unconsciously making that were actually sabotaging my quest to gut health nirvana. Chances are you could be making them too and be none the wiser.

Gut health is not just about drinking kombucha and eating sauerkraut. There are so many other things to consider. Of course, I would highly recommend seeing a professional but here are a few of the mistakes I was making, that you could be making too.

Snacking all day

Snacking throughout the day isn't great for your gut, particularly when it's on foods that can irritate your gut like like dairy or grains. My naturopath Polly Rea suggests reducing your food intake to just a solid breakfast, lunch and dinner allowing plenty of time between meals to fully digest your food. After dinner, allow at least 12 hours before you have breakfast to ensure you get a restful sleep also.

Eating yoghurt

Like me, you’re probably associating yoghurt with probiotics. Unfortunately, most of the tasty yoghurts on the market have very few live bacteria in them, are packed with sugar and are made from poor-quality, low-fat milk. This makes your “healthy snack” a fuel source for sugar-dependent bacteria in the gut. What’s a girl to do? Opt for prebiotic, fibre rich foods that will help feed your good bacteria like flax seeds, veggies and whole unprocessed grains like quinoa and oats.

Consuming too many fermented foods

It came as a shock to me but you can definitely have too much kombucha and sauerkraut. Consuming too many fermented foods can have adverse effects and lead to inflammation in the gut and body, and worsen candida, which wreaks havoc on gut health. When consuming fermented foods the key is to always start small with a ½ cup of cultured vegetables or about 60ml of your favourite probiotic liquid. As your body gets used to fermented foods and drinks, you can start to add 1 additional serving at a time. For example, having sauerkraut with lunch and dinner or an extra serve of kefir in the evening as well as in the morning.

Eating when stressed

I’m a big emotional eater so learning to not rely on food in times of stress was a very difficult habit to break. When we’re stressed, our body diverts blood flow and energy away from our digestive system, which slows down digestion. Food can then ferment in the stomach, leading to gas, bloating, and an imbalance of gut bacteria. Our sympathetic nervous system is our "fight or flight," and often compared to running from a bear, which makes digestion less important. Elevated cortisol also contributes to hormone imbalance, insulin resistance (which can make us crave unhealthy foods), suppresses thyroid function (can slow bowel movements and increase the buildup of toxins), and create "leaky gut" by loosening the gut's tight junctions. Ideally, cooking and smelling food promotes healthy digestion as it starts in the mouth with the creation of amylase, one of the enzymes, and chewing our food to the point of mastication allows our brain to understand when we're satiated. Then, hopefully, followed at least by daily bowel movements that score either 3 or 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart.

Consuming too many raw vegetables

This one was a shock to me because I assumed that eating a tonne of raw veg would be the goal. My Ayurvedic practitioner made me cut back on the raw veg in our first week of treatment. Why? For many people with gut health issues digesting raw vegetables can be quite difficult, leading to gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. If you're having gut issues, fill your plate with cooked vegetables instead, and over time add back in the raw goodness.

Forgetting to take your probiotics

The benefits of probiotics are well documented. The only problem is when they’re tucked away in your fridge it’s very easy to forget them. The clever folks at Swisse have come to the rescue with their brand new range of ‘ultibiotics’ Swisse Ultibiotics - a premium quality, fridge-free probiotics formulated with clinically trialled strains, specifically tailored to support your health needs.

These probiotics can be taken anywhere and we want you to showcase how easily you're able to integrate them into your life on the go, whether you take them whilst doing yoga, on a hike, at the beach, when you’re out and about with your kids. There are no more excuses.

The range includes:

Swisse Ultibiotic Daily Digestive Probiotic

  • Support healthy digestion and maintain gastrointestinal health.

  • Help restore the natural balance of friendly intestinal flora

  • Help promote beneficial bacterial growth

  • Support immune system defence

Swisse Ultibiotic Daily Immune Probiotic

  • Reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms

  • Shorten the duration of colds and support a healthy recovery

  • Maintain a healthy immune system to fight illness

  • Help stimulate a healthy immune system response

Swisse Ultibiotic Daily IBS Probiotic

  • Help relieve symptoms and reduce the ongoing occurrence of symptoms of medically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Relieve abdominal pain and discomfort

  • Help reduce abdominal bloating

  • Maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system and support bowel regularity

Swisse Ultibiotic Women’s Flora Probiotic

  • Balance and maintain healthy vaginal flora

  • Help support a healthy vaginal pH to reduce and relieve discomfort

  • Support and maintain urinary tract health

I’m no doctor, so always read the label. If symptoms worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional. Follow directions for use. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Check the product label for storage details.