Remember when talking about your toilet habits was considered bad manners? Not any more! Gut health is getting more airtime than ever (searches on Google are up 350%), and now it’s not just being linked to how physically sound your insides are, but how you’re feeling emotionally as well.
That saying about the gut being your second brain – it’s actually been proven to be true and anxiety and stress can cause your stomach to bloat just as much as a dodgy dinner. The good news is that you don’t have to have a lifestyle overhaul to make your gut happier – try these 3 simple switches that aren’t complicated, expensive or boring but are bloody good for your gut.
Take a probiotic
The one we have all heard of. Live bacteria that helps to balance the microflora in your gut so your body can break down food, produce vitamins and fight germs. Probiotics are found in fermented food like yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut but you can also take supplements. Hands down the best one we’ve tried is Symprove, which has the backing of King’s College Hospital in London, who have been researching the gut for decades. They discovered that when taking a shot of this every morning, 57% of patients with moderate to severe IBS had fewer symptoms. It doesn’t sound vast, but for those who suffer every day, this is huge. We haven’t found anyone who’s tried it and hasn’t been impressed. Recommended for 12 weeks, a four week supply costs £79 and is available from symprove.com
Belly breathing has been part of the yogi world forever, but people are now using it to control and temper their tummies. By breathing deep (past your lungs and chest and into your stomach) it relaxes your organs. This reduction in tension means that everything from toxins to gas can then begin moving through your intestines easier, which equals less pain and discomfort. Especially good if your IBS is linked to stress. Just five minutes of breathing in for 10 seconds (make sure your stomach expands fully), holding your breath for 10 and then breathing out for 10 and you’ll not only find it refocuses your brain, but it really will help to reset your stomach too. And you can do it anywhere, at any time – although sitting down is probably best, and also somewhere where you don’t mind billowing out your belly!
So the science bit… Your body needs bacteria to function and because most of your body’s bacteria is found in the gut, if you’re not feeding it properly it will become off-balance and that’s when problems occur. The usual culprits like junk food don’t help but things like onions, garlic, apples and pulses can be a trigger too. We recently tried The Happy Pear’s Happy Gut course that cuts them out and then reintroduces them in a manageable manner. A six week online programme that’s full of tummy friendly recipes and quick two minute tutorials on how you can help your insides. It’s an education in and out of the kitchen. Helping you find your foodie triggers, they even have three cooking schedules to make things easy – once a week, three times a week or every day and there’s a Facebook group where you can share tips and experiences. While six weeks sounds like a long time, the recipes are delicious (hello Vietnamese Coconut Curry and Banana Bread) and because you don’t have to think about what you’re buying at the weekly food shop or cooking every night, it’s actually a lot less stressful and means more time to chill out in the evening. Plus, the two Irish twins who founded The Happy Pear (Dave and Steve) are pretty easy on the eye too! Watch them on YouTube or check out the course on thehappypear.ie. Did we mention they’re vegan too? It costs €149, but the wealth of information is worth it and it’s all been formulated with the help of a registered dietician and gastroenterologist, so it’s science-backed as well.