Always Listen To Your Gut Feeling
Posted by Adam Meads
Gut feeling, gut instinct, going with your gut...there's a reason these emotional reactions are linked to your stomach and that's because the gut-brain connection is so powerful.
In fact, they’re constantly chatting to each other which is why if your mind is elsewhere and shadowed by stress you could experience tummy problems or if your gut is suffering from poor diet or lack of sleep your brain won’t be firing on all cylinders.
“The gut-brain connection is a bi-directional relationship in that they both speak to one another,” explains Eve Kalinik, nutritional therapist and author of Be Good To Your Gut.“For example, stress from a psychological perspective can create more stress in the gut which can result in constipation, looser movements and bloating. Similarly, where there are imbalances in the gut microbiome (the trillions of microbes in the gut) it can have a knock-on effect to how we feel from a cognitive perspective.”
Recent research has also shown that the gut microbiome is also crucial for our learning and memory and so a healthy gut is essential if you want to remain focused, sharp and on the ball. It’s why Bio-Kult has just added ‘Mind’ to its probiotic line-up. A live bacteria range developed specifically to target the gut-brain-axis it’s mission is to aid cognitive function and immunity because get this - up to 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut so again – if your stomach is suffering, it’s likely to cause knock-on effects.
However, before you go and raid the probiotic aisle, Eve says that not everyone needs one per se as if you eat plenty of fermented foods such as live yoghurt, cheese, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut you’re feeding your gut the right sort of bacteria anyway.Fibre from diverse sources including fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and seeds is also crucial to a healthier happier gut and drinking lots of water is a must. “The gut is a thirsty organ and it needs regular watering to keep its spirits lifted,” she says.
But it isn’t just what you’re putting inside your body that can help those good vibes flow between belly and brain. Stress, as always, is a constant saboteur so it’s crucial to have some forms of stress management up your sleeve. For Eve that’s practising gentle yoga, meditation or simple breathing exercises – activities that allow your mind to rest. Your gut needs time out too – “engaging with the concept of ‘rest and digest’ is one of the best things you can do to support this close connection,” says Eve. It’s tricky we know, especially when that to-do list is getting longer by the second, but by not wolfing your dinner down or eating lunch on the hoof you’ll be nurturing your insides more than you know.
The Drugs Don’t Work
One gut enemy that isn’t quite as easy to fight off is the dreaded antibiotics. Referring to them as like a grenade to the gut, they wipe out your bacteria – the beneficial as well as the strands causing your illness - so you might actually take longer to recover and experience some unpleasant side effects in the meantime. They have such a detrimental effect to your gut that in France, doctors give out probiotics with every prescription in an aim to rebuild gut health as quickly as possible once the course of antibiotics has been taken.
How Do You Know Something’s Not Right?
Looser stools or constipation are big tell-tale signs, especially if this continues to happen but your diet has remained the same. Excessive wind and persistent bloating are other red flags, but Eve says they must be at the extreme end of the scale – “a bit of bloating after you’ve eaten is totally normal and a bit of wind is actually healthy”. And of course, as well as digestive symptoms, it’s worth noting your mood and energy levels.
Fascinating stuff isn’t it? It’s why our head is never out of Eve’s Be Good To Your Gut book. Alongside gut-friendly and delicious recipes, she details everything from how to help your hormones, why things go out of whack, food to feed your mind and debunks myths surrounding detoxing and diets. Because anything that even looks like a diet has the potential to throw your gut off guard. Why not tuck into her ice cream suggestions instead that do good, taste good and are good for you. We’re hooked.