Naturopathic Nutritionist and lifestyle coach Bridget Hancock explains how taking care of your gut is the key to wellness.
A recent poll conducted by Itsu explains why we are unable to shake off Covid – we are ignoring our fundamental needs for health and well-being.
It concluded that half the British population have little idea of their nutritional needs, a third consumes lunches with no nutritional value and two thirds have no idea how much protein to take daily. In addition, most had no idea about which vitamins to take or how much fibre and calcium they should consume.
These figures are not reassuring especially given our current circumstances. Not only do proteins break down to amino acids to transport oxygen and fats, they make and transport hormones, make muscle, hair, nails, cartilage, bone and lubricate joints. They also power up our immune system to keep our bodies safe from attack.
Our gastrointestinal tract starts at the mouth and runs to the exit. It is a sealed tube with a host of bacteria in certain parts to break down food and make nutrients for a happy and healthy life. The healthy immune system is primarily controlled in the gut by our microbiome, the tiny bacteria that inhabit our gut.
To maintain the health of this vast array of bacteria we require a rainbow of fruit and vegetables which calms inflammation, protects the heart, balances hormones, and protects against cancer. Plant foods provide the prebiotics that keep the beneficial bacteria alive and so if we go for periods of not eating fruit and vegetables the bad bacteria overrun the good which overwhelms the immune system.
The gut lining consists of tightly packed cells that prevent unwanted food leaving the gut before it is fully digested. The reason gluten is a problem is it can separate the cells, creating an opening that allows food to enter the bloodstream.
The result is a cascade of inflammatory events, a lowered immune system and studies show can lead to auto immune disease.
How we look after our gut determines how we think, how we feel, and how we defend our body to maintain optimal health.
Starve bad bacteria
1. Fast overnight for 12-13 hours
2. Don’t snack between meals and leave four hours between meals.
3. Stress Busters: use a slow inhale for a count of five and exhale for count of seven. Repeat six times before you eat, or do a guided online Meditation.
4. Avoid processed foods, food additives and gluten.
5. If you must take antibiotics take probiotics alongside them as the antibiotics wipe out the healthy gut bacteria.
6. Avoid high heat cooking (frying grilling BBQing)
Feed healthy bacteria
1. Ensure your diet is composed of
25% Protein – chickpeas, line-caught fish, grass-fed meat, lentils, nuts, seeds, sheep or goats’ cheese, eggs.
20% Carbs – rinsed and soaked overnight millet, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, rice. root vegetables, green vegetables, fruits.
50% Fats – avocado, almonds, walnut, brazil nuts, flax oil, chia and flaxseed.
5% concentrated foods, organic herbs, spices, herbal teas and supplements.
2. Consume eight portions of veg and two portions of fruit a day, a portion size being a handful. Note: peas, corn and fruit juice DO NOT contribute to your healthy intake of fruit and vegetables.
3. Cook with healthy fats such as coconut oil, or steam fry which requires adding water to the pan to prevent the oil temperature rising above 100 degrees.
4. Dress salads and vegetables with avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.
5. Drink 1.5-2 litres of filtered alkaline water where possible between meals but not with meals.
Bridget Hancock, founder of www.Bridgetlouisenutrition.com, holds a BSc in Pharmacology and Physiology and a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition. She is Yoga 500 hours trained and currently undergoing Breathwork Practitioner training. She is a member of the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners (ANP) and consult clients worldwide on the importance of holistic health working in synergy for mind, body and soul.