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How to look after your gut

Of all the different bits of your body, sometimes your gut doesn’t even get a second thought. But it’s one of the most important parts of you – in fact, it’s almost like a second brain, processing all the food you eat and making sure you’re in good health.

But what if you’ve been neglecting your gut health and need to improve your digestive health? When you eat, large bits of food are digested by enzymes in your body into amino acids and sugars, and then pass through your gut wall. When there’s not enough enzymes in your gut, that’s where the problems start, and this poor digestion can damage the gut wall. And it’s not a good feeling.

Bad things happening in your gut can cause all kinds of things you might not expect – from migraines to eczema, to chronic fatigue and infections – things you’d maybe not think bad gut health could cause. So keeping your gut happy and healthy will help you keep happy and healthy. Patrick Holford, an expert in nutrition for over thirty years, has some tips on how to get a healthy gut:

Improve your digestion

It sounds almost too straightforward, but eating the right foods is the best place to start if you want to keep that gut of yours happy. What this means is being kind to your digestive system by eating whole, unrefined and chemical-free foods that your gut works best with to digest and absorb.

Improve your absorption

This is all about improving your gut health – and the easiest way to do this is by taking two teaspoons of L-glutamine powder in water. One at night before you go to bed, and the other as soon as you wake up, waiting an hour before you tuck in to breakfast. It’ll help heal your gut wall.

Improve your protection

You’ve heard all about friendly bacteria, right? Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are there to give our gut a helping hand. You can do them a favour by taking a probiotic supplement twice a day, which will help protect your gut wall.

Calm inflammation down

As well as sticking to a healthy diet and avoiding food you’re intolerant to, there are other ways to help your gut health along and tackle poor digestion.

i Try and eat oily fish two or three times a week, and take at least 1000mg of omega-3 fish oil. If you’re vegan, replace the fish with chia seeds.

ii Turmeric, which is one of nature’s best anti-inflammatories.

iii Eat quercetin and bromelain – they might not sound familiar off the bat but they’re important anti-inflammatories found in red onions (quercetin) and pineapple (bromelain).

iv Increase your intake of MSM (sulphur) – it’s found in eggs, onions and garlic, and this helps methylation. Which means it is super important and required for nutrient absorption, which will help tackle poor digestion.

v Take Vitamin C. It’s a natural anti-histamine, and helps fight back with the body reacts in an inflammatory way.

Try an elimination diet
Over time, your body may have developed intolerances to certain foods, which doesn’t help your digestive health as it triggers an immune-based response by your antibodies.

Get tested for the IgB antibody reactions against certain food to help you work out which you need to eliminate. You may be able to introduce them over time as your gut health improves.

Improve elimination

Drink at least six glasses of water a day, eat more oat-based foods and chia seeds, or you can take a teaspoon or capsule of glucomannan. All that combined should help.

For more tips on how to get a healthy gut, read Improve Your Digestion (£14.99, Piaktus) by Patrick Holford.