Food is life and what we put inside our bodies directly affect our gut health and in turn our mind, body and soul. Therefore, learning to nurture and listen to our body is vital.
Mays is a nutritionist and yoga teacher who passionately believes in the healing power of nature. Working within an integrative approach to nutrition and healthcare Mays incorporates the whole person to provide an overall holistic wellness offering.
She believes that you must heal the mind alongside diet & lifestyle changes. You cannot fix one without the other. Through her experiences and studies she helps individuals heal holistically. She offers one to one nutrition consultations, guided meditations, yoga lessons, pranayama and reiki healing.
There’s nothing she loves more than sharing her knowledge and positive energy to help people achieve their goals and heal. Having experienced and healed her gut issues, gut health is one of her specialities.
May’s top tips on creating and maintaining your gut health are below.
EAT REAL FOODS
- Eat fresh & natural foods for maximum nutrition. Include lots of organic rainbow veggies, fresh salads including dark green leafy veg. Locally sourced fruits & veggies such as rainbow berries, apples, pears and plums in summer months.
- The standard Western diet is high in refined carbs, saturated fat, processed foods & food additives. Therefore is linked to whole host of digestive issues. Food additives, including glucose, preservatives, flavour enhancers (such as MSG), GMO soy, artificial sweeteners, bulking agents, thickeners and gums, cause increased gut inflammation. As such this leads to leaky gut syndrome. Low calorie drinks containing artificial sweeteners wreak havoc with digestion causing bloating/diarrhoe & IBS.
- Overeating – we are surrounded by food cues everywhere screaming at us to continuously be stimulated to eat. In other words, the message that we must eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day with a fear of ever going remotely hungry. However, overeating disrupts efficient digestion causing bloating and indigestion. Similarly, if you think about it, as cavemen our bodies were designed to go for long periods where we couldn’t find any food to eat. Therefore we are designed to survive in a fasted state.
- Giving your digestive system a break from eating is actually incredibly beneficial, as it allows the gut to repair and our bodies. And, most importantly to heal and create new blood cells and get rid of old blood cells. In conclusion ideally eat till you are 70% full – avoid that passing out with fullness feeling after meals. This is a sign that your body is reacting adversely to foods and this will not do your digestion any good.
REDUCE BAD HABITS
- Smoking & Alcohol. Both linked to increasedacid reflux, heartburn, stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leaky gut & a range of cancers
- Sugar & white carbs. These feed bad gut bacteria & spike blood sugars, increasing weight gain. Avoid to negate the damaging insulin spike & (bonus!) for less gas & bloating. Replace with slow release satiating low GI complex carbs like your yummy wintery root vegetables and wholegrains.
- Gluten. You may be gluten-intolerant & not know it. Try an elimination diet for a month & see if digestion improves. Then re-introduce, paying special attention to how you feel after gluten containing foods.
- Dairy – similar to gluten – can be very inflammatory to the digestive system for many people.
PROBIOTICS & FERMENTED FOODS
- Take probiotics and/or eat fermented foods to strengthen leaky guts & tighten gut junctions. Fermented foods are naturally packed with probiotics & promote healthy gut bacteria growth in colon. Eg kefir (dairy free water kefir is best), kombucha tea, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, fermented tofu, natto.
- Probiotic supplements further help with digestive issues. Speak to a qualified nutritionist for further guidance on specific strains for specific conditions.
Nourish & stimulate the growth of “good” bacteria. They are food for healthy probiotics to grow in colon.
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) & inulin most common prebiotics – help protect against cancer & balance insulin levels.
- Common foods: Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, banana, asparagus, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, garlic, green tea, honey (go for manuka in small doses), leeks, legumes, onions, peas, radicchio, soybeans, apple cider vinegar.
EAT LOTS OF FIBRE
30g fibre per day is theUK recommendation.
Fibre acts as a prebiotic & promotes healthy gut function as well as preventing obesity & high cholesterol with 2 types.
Soluble fibre: soft/sticky & absorbs water, forming gel-like substance in digestive system, found in oatbran, legumes, nuts & seeds, fruits & avocado. Helps soften stool so it can slide through GI tract more easily. It binds to cholesterol & sugar, preventing/ slowing their absorption into blood helping regulate blood sugar levels. Protects against heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. It increases the population of good bacteria in the gut, linked to improved immunity, anti-inflammatory effects & better mood. It also makes you feel full for longer helping with weight loss.
Insoluble fibre: doesn’t dissolve in water, “roughage”, acts like giant toothbrush, helping to keep everything in the digestive tract moving along, promoting peristalsis, elimination of waste & preventing constipation, found in wholegrains & vegetables (especially in stalks, skins & seeds).
SHORT CHAIN FATTY ACIDS
These are produced when certain indigestible fibres or prebiotics, which can’t be broken down by our digestive enzymes. They reach the colon intact where they are fermented by our friendly gut bacteria. And are the main source of energy & nutrition for the cells lining our colon.
They are linked to improvement of intestinal mucosa integrity, increasing mucin production which improves digestive health, reducing inflammatory bowel diseases, cancers as well as decreasing type 2 diabetes, obesity (by increasing satiety & decreasing inflammation) & heart diseases.
High-fibre foods, such as fruits, veggies, legumes & whole grains increase production of SCFA. And the more abundant & diverse the supply of fibre through diet, the more abundant and diverse the gut microbiome & SCFA production.
Types of wintery fibre rich foods that produce SCFA in colon:
- Inulin: artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions & asparagus.
- Fructooligosaccharides (FOS): various fruits & veggies eg bananas, onions, garlic & asparagus.
- Resistant starch: wholegrains, brown rice, beans & legumes, sweet potatoes (or white potatoes) – when you cook & cool them they become high in resistant starches (also less insulin spiking).
- Pectin: apples, apricots, carrots, oranges.
Mays is teaching a workshop on gut health with Keen on Yoga on the 15th of August.
If you’d like more Healthy Mays nutrition, lifestyle or yoga tips get in touch to book in for a 1-1 consultation. I can offer 10% the first consultation for anyone who reads this blog and gets in touch & offer a free 15 minute exploratory phone call: www.healthymays.com or email@example.com to book in.