We continue to learn more about how important our gut health is when it comes to our overall health. In the past I’ve covered 6 steps to improve your gut health, now let’s take a look at what we should be minimising when it comes to a healthy and happy gut.
When it comes to optimal gut health, we want to minimise foods that can contribute to inflammation. Ultra-processed foods including baked goods, fried foods, chocolate, and chips are pro-inflammatory when consumed in excess. Key emphasis on the term excess. Including a bit of chocolate as an occasional soul-food isn’t going to cause issues, it’s when these foods are consumed too frequently and/or in large amounts that they can negatively impact our gut health. They are also nutrient-poor and low in fibre, both of which won’t keep our gut very happy.
Now I’m not saying don’t enjoy the occasional glass of wine, however, we don’t want to go overboard. Alcohol can negatively impact our gut microbiome even just from one night of heavy drinking. Alcohol is also a gut irritant, so can cause/exacerbate symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, reflux, nausea and abdominal pain.
Excess red and processed meats
When consumed in excess, red and processed meats such as bacon, salami, sausages, and ham are pro-inflammatory and can have a negative impact on our gut. They are also associated with an increased risk of bowel and colorectal cancer. The recommendation to reduce this risk is to limit red meat to less than 350g cooked meat per week, and limit processed meat to less than 2 serves per week (if at all).
Sleep plays a key role when it comes to our gut health and is often one of the first things to suffer when life gets busy! Poor sleep also tends to lead to poor food choices, as our hunger hormone ghrelin increases and satiety hormone leptin decreases, meaning we’re much hungrier when we haven’t slept well. Typically, our food choices when sleep-deprived gravitate towards high sugar, convenience foods, which can negatively impact our gut microbiome. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Need some help? Check out how to optimise your sleep in 10 easy steps here.
To look after our gut health, we need to be active. Being sedentary and not exercising regularly is likely to negatively impact gut health. Exercise increases the diversity of our gut microbiome, with positive changes to the gut microbiome being seen after just 6 weeks of regular exercise (30-60 minutes 3 times per week). Exercise can also help manage stress levels and improve sleep quality, both of which will be beneficial to our gut health.
For expert, personalised dietary advice to support you on your health and wellness journey, book your first appointment today.