You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t experienced the uber-uncomfortable feeling of a bloated stomach, or had issues with their, ahem, bowel movements at some point. In fact, many of us are at odds with our guts—especially the one in five Aussies familiar with the tricky-to-treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The causes of gut issues are varied (and up for debate), but the Gastroenterological Society of Australia points to poor diet, too much processed food, 24/7 stress and even some medications as key agents in throwing the balance of good and bad bacteria out of whack. The result: an unhappy, sluggish system. Follow these tips to boost your gut health today.
Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotics help boost ‘good’ gut microbes and reduce the growth of harmful ones. You’ll find probiotics in supplements or in foods, such as live- cultured yoghurt (lactobacillus or acidophilus), kefir, miso soup and sauerkraut.
Stress less and sleep better
High stress levels and poor sleep can contribute to a sluggish gut. To help de-stress, try a Mindfulness app such as Headspace – a less anxious mind will result in a deeper slumber. Foods high in fibre may also help you sleep better.
Turns out a bike ride or jog could reduce IBS symptoms as much as it does your waistline. Why? Aerobic activity soothes stress, makes the colon muscles work better and helps move gas through the gastrointestinal tract faster. That’s why when IBS patients in a Swedish study were advised to exercise between 20 and 30 minutes three to five times a week, their pain decreased significantly. Yet another reason to lace up those sneakers!
Try a food supplement to support your digestive system
A dietary food supplement such as Energast, which contains sodium butyrate, may be beneficial for your gut health. According to Gastroenterologist, Professor Andrew Day, Sydney, reduced sodium butyrate can be linked to gastrointestinal disorders, including (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
“Butyrate production may be reduced in patients with, or who have had, an unbalanced and low fibre diet, intestinal inflammation, antibiotic use, or bacterial microflora disturbances,” said Professor Day. “A sodium butyrate deficiency may contribute to the development, or worsening of IBS symptoms, for which butyrate supplementation may prove beneficial.”