Today I’ll tell you a little secret. Well, it’s not actually a secret, but a fact that hasn’t been touted enough.
Your brain and gut are a team. They are very much linked and work in connection with each other. You look after one, the other one is better off and vice versa. Your brain has a direct effect on the stomach and the intestines. As an example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food even gets there. This connection works both ways. A troubled gut can send signals to the brain, just as well as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut.
So consequently, your stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of stress, anxiety or even depression. That is because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are closely connected.
Why am I telling you all this, you may wonder. There’s a very important reason. I want to you to consider the impact of focusing on your gut can have on your mood, your stress levels and even your outlook on life.
Now that I have told you how important it is to focus on your gut so that your brain is functioning at it’s best, I can finally go into WHAT you can do to treat this powerful, interconnected combo.
There’s a lot that can be done but I would like to focus in on just one area now. Fibre.
I hope you’re not disappointed. Fibre doesn’t exactly sound like a superfood or even a very enticing foodstuff. But it’s hugely important for your wellbeing. More and more is understood about the health benefits of adding more fibre into your diet, and it should be more of a topic.
Fibre it up!
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Although most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fibre cannot. But instead it passes through the body undigested.
What fibre does in the body is incredible! It helps to regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in control. Us adults need at least 20 to 30 grams of fibre per day to achieve good health, but most in the United Kingdom only get about half of that.
Fibre comes in two different types, both very important to health. Soluble and insoluble fibre. The first dissolves in water and can help lower blood glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol.
The other type, insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water but can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and therefore helping to prevent constipation.
If you want to increase your fibre intake, you must do so slowly. Let your body adjust and then you’re able to reap the benefits. Give yourself about a month to slowly incorporate more of fibre rich foods to your diet and remember to drink plenty of water. Up the water intake alongside the increased fibre intake, so that your body stays in balance.
Now that you’re ready to include more in your diet, just remember these tips, that can help you increase your fibre intake:
Some tips that could help you increase your fibre intake:
Eat fruits whole instead of drinking fruit juices
Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with darker, whole grain products
As breakfast, choose whole grain cereals or at least the ones that have a whole grain as their first ingredient
Snack on raw vegetables instead of processed foods (add a spicy dip or refreshing tzatziki to make them more palatable)
Substitute meat two or three times a week for beans or legumes in chillis, stews and soups
Overall, the top sources of fibre are whole grain foods, fruits, berries and vegetables as well as legumes and nuts.
Speaking of berries, they do really pack a punch of fibre (and a whole lot else) into a their small size. Did you know that the small but mighty blueberry or less popular lingonberry both have a great deal of soluble and insoluble fibre contained within that small but colourful frame? A really great amount, approx.. 10% each. The sea buckthorn tops even this with a staggering 15% of fibre.
As berries are in fact a fibre rich, antioxidant powerhouse, they are a great addition to any breakfast, snack or quick bite. Including something with fibre at every meal will help you get to that gut friendly intake level, which will in turn help your whole body function better. And who doesn’t want that for themselves?
As a reminder, we can all improve our gut health by aiming to:
increase the fibre intake, slowly but surely
drink enough water
do exercise that’s suitable for you
take care of our stress levels
Although this list is not exhaustive, it’s a reminder of some of the things that all impact the wellbeing of our bodies and most importantly, our gut.
For more tailored advice, please get in touch.