A healthy gut is important for a variety of processes in the body. It contributes towards immunity, weight, mood, and much more. To help you get to know your gut, we’ve asked nutritionist Rachel Greene to answer your digestion questions…
How do I know if I have an unhealthy gut?
It’s completely normal to have some bloating, especially after a large meal or at the end of the day. However, bloating that’s particularly painful or persistent may be signs of an unhealthy gut. Similarly, a big change in bowel habit such as prolonged diarrhoea or constipation (or both) are signs that your body isn’t functioning quite as well as it should.
What are your top tips to prevent bloating?
Bloating is a completely natural part of digestion. If we fill our stomach with food, it has to be stored somewhere! For most people, bloating tends to occur in the evenings and is usually gone by the morning. However, if you have a particularly sluggish digestive system or a condition such as IBS, bloating can happen more regularly.
My top tips:
- Make sure to drink plenty of water – the UK guidelines are around 1.2L, or 6-8 glasses of water. Water is essential for much of the digestive process and if you don’t like water, try adding squash or fresh fruit to add flavour.
- Gentle movement can help to stimulate digestion. Light exercise like yoga or a short walk can help to increase blood flow and wake up the digestive system.
- Practicing mindful eating can also help to prevent bloating. This involves chewing our food for longer which creates more enzymes to aid digestion. Try to eat at a table with no distractions like your phone or the TV.
“Water is essential for much of the digestive process.”
Which vegetables cause gas and why?
The vegetables most well-known for creating gas are the cruciferous family. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and kale. These vegetables contain a sugar that is difficult to digest which causes bloating and gas. However, these vegetables are great sources of various micronutrients – the darker the green, the higher the vitamin and mineral content. Try not to eliminate these completely and opt for a smaller portion instead.
Which vegetables have a lower glycaemic index? I have sensitivity to digesting healthy carbs.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a measure of how much a food raises blood sugar levels compared to white bread. Low GI vegetables include common salad ingredients such as peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Higher GI vegetables are usually ‘starchy’ e.g. parsnips, and potatoes. The addition of a healthy fat source can help to reduce the GI content of a meal. Alternatively, swapping to low fibre vegetables can help with digestion of carbohydrates, although this doesn’t necessarily correlate to GI content.
“The glycaemic index is a measure of how much a food raises blood sugar levels compared to white bread.”
Which gut health supplements would you recommend?
If you are suffering from any kind of digestive issues or just want to boost your overall health, a digestive supplement is probably the place to start.
- Myvitamins Bio Bites are a high fibre and low sugar snack in a delicious Chocolate Orange flavour. Fruit and nut based based snacks provide natural sweetness (avoiding refined sugars) and contain healthy fats to help you reach your daily goal. The addition of protein will also help you feel fuller for longer, making these a great addition to your daily routine.
- Myvitamins Inulin Powder is a convenient source of a popular prebiotic that helps good gut bacteria to grow by feeding it.