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5 Minute ReadEducation
28.08.20 (Updated 29.09.22)
Looking for ways to ramp up your brainpower, boost your beauty, increase your immunity, improve your digestion and lift your mood? Taking better care of your stomach could reap all these rewards and more.
The gut is sometimes referred to as the ‘second brain’, and has been deemed the locus of everything from serotonin production and mental wellbeing, to immune-response and stress-moderation.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your gut health, achieve better digestion and get glowing skin, and we have covered some of the best routes to a healthy gut below.
Read on and discover the steps you should be taking each and every day if you want to improve your overall wellbeing:
Having a whole food, plant-based and anti-inflammatory diet can improve your gut health more than any over-the-counter drugs you may be able to find. Your focus should be on increasing the amount probiotic and prebiotic rich foods you can get through your diet.
Probiotics are generally found in fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso which all help to increase the good bacteria in your gut.
Probiotics and prebiotics work as a team. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fibre that are needed to effectively ‘feed’ the good bacteria once it’s been established. Therefore, prebiotics help to encourage the flourishing of the good bacteria and keep your defences strong over time. It is important to consume both probiotics and prebiotics for your gut health to thrive.
Some great dietary sources of prebiotic fibre are bananas, chicory root, flaxseeds, dandelion greens, jerusalem artichoke, onion, garlic, asparagus, leek, garlic and onion.
Apples, oats, barley and other high-fibre foods are also fantastic for helping your gut to thrive. Fibre-rich foods help to promote liver detoxification, enabling it to rid the body of excess circulating hormones.
These days, antibiotics are an easy go-to and are often prescribed for viruses and infections. They can be a really important tool for fighting dangerous illness, but be warned about their overuse as they can be really detrimental to your gut flora and can have net negative effects on your overall health and immunity in the long-run. One of the main reasons for this is that most antibiotics that are prescribed are what we call ‘broad-spectrum’, meaning that they have been designed to wipe out all the bacteria in your gut - the bad bacteria that are causing the illness in the first place, but also the good bacteria that are your natural defences against the next bout of illness. Over time, and if consumption is too liberal, antibiotics can have a lasting negative effect on your body’s willingness to accommodate the growth of good bacteria altogether.
The bottom line: only take antibiotics when it is absolutely necessary.
The main offenders responsible for depleting gut health are (no surprises here) refined sugars, processed carbohydrates that have been stripped of fibre, alcohol and artificial sweeteners.
Diets high in refined sugars, sweeteners, and simple carbohydrates are often responsible for the onset of depleted good bacteria, inflammation and, eventually, inflammaging - inflammation that is so severe it causes premature ageing of the body’s cells. Higher than average intake of alcohol, sugar and refined white carbohydrates has been shown to cause the premature development of fine lines and wrinkles, to negatively impact mood and increase self-reported anxiety and depression levels.
Artificial sweeteners in particular, and specifically those that contain aspartame, have been linked to a reduction in the number of good bacteria present, and in depleted overall gut health. In fact, artificial sweeteners may actually be doing more harm to your gut than actual added sugars, and exacerbating the rate at which ageing of the cells occurs, in the process.
Clinical studies have been able to establish a stronger link between artificial sweeteners and a depleted microbiome than they have between refined white sugar and a depleted microbiome. Furthermore, artificial sweeteners were more closely correlated to an elevated risk of developing diabetes than was refined white sugar. If that’s enough to persuade you away from the sugar-free syrups and diet colas, we don’t know what is.
Good sugar alternatives include honey (particularly high-grade manuka honey) and applesauce. Mashed bananas can also be used to sweeten breakfasts, smoothies and cakes or blended from frozen to make a one ingredient ice cream which tastes surprisingly good and has the desired texture. Honey, apples and bananas all contain prebiotic compounds so are great swaps if you’re looking to improve your gut health whilst steering clear of the very things that might upset its balance.
Try to keep your alcohol consumption within the low to moderate range as heavy alcohol consumption can encourage the overgrowth of bad bacteria whilst simultaneously reducing the population of good bacteria. Aim to have a night off once in a while, and ideally don’t drink two nights in a row. A great idea is to substitute your usual gin and tonic for something equally delicious so that you don’t feel deprived. A gut-healthy swap for your usual tipple would be sipping on an ice-cold kombucha - kombucha comes in so many flavours you’re bound to find one you love, plus it has the added bonus of providing a healthy dose of probiotics.
Probiotic supplements are an easy and efficient way to give your gut what it needs, and quickly.
If you want to improve your mental health, enhance the appearance of your skin, strengthen hair and nails, or boost your immunity quickly and sustainably, then taking a probiotic supplement can be a great option. By combining a supplement with the other tips and tricks outlined above you will experience results even sooner.
To boost your physical and mental wellbeing further you should consider supplementing with LYMA. LYMA contains peer-reviewed, patented ingredients, which have been formulated with the precise goal of helping you to become the best possible version of you. The perfectly balanced formula engenders results beyond what you can hope to achieve through diet alone. Ask yourself: are you reaching your full potential? LYMA can help you to answer “yes”.