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24 Jan

A healthy digestive system is key to maintaining overall health and well-being. Keeping your gut in good order can help promote clearer skin, a positive mental outlook and healthier well-being.

Around 86% of Brits have suffered from a gastrointestinal problem in the past year while GP’s spend 10% of their working life treating patients with digestive disorders.

It is important, therefore, to be aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy digestive system.

The gut – your digestive system – is like a ‘second brain’ and it has a key role to play in human health and well-being.

Nutritionist and microbiome expert Shann Nix Jones highlights some top tips for gut health from eating more blueberries to avoiding indigestion tablets.

Digestive System is Key To Good Health

Digestion and gut health are crucial to optimum overall health. Comprised of trillions of beneficial micro-organisms that co-exist in the body, the microbiome is essentially another organ. It dictates the aging process, digestion, brain function, mood, immune system, and is also vital in protecting the body against serious diseases.

What is digestive health?

Referred to as The Four Horseman of The Gut Apocalypse; excess sugar, stress, antibiotics and environmental toxins are all deadly to the gut and compromise its health.

Sugary diets alter the makeup of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract (GI), triggering the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. While emotional stress actually alters the shape and function of microorganisms in the GI tract. These changes prevent energy from fueling biological processes occurring in the body, instantly impacting the skin, brain, bones, muscles, and hormones.

How can we improve our digestive health?

“Pure, unflavoured kefir made with goat’s milk and real kefir grains is the fastest and most effective way to improve gut health” says Shann. The probiotic kefir works in several ways, by producing serotonin that triggers cells within the gut lining to release molecules that signal brain function, inducing positive behaviour while also reducing elevated levels of inflammation in the brain and body which relieves symptoms of digestive conditions.

Powdered collagen stirred into a hot drink is another way to nourish the digestive system, healing the lining of the gut and forming connective tissue that seals the protective lining of the GI tract.

Drinking organic herbal teas as a medication instead of taking pills also helps to protect the stomach lining from stomach bleeding. “Try meadowsweet tea instead of paracetamol, it contains salicylic acid- an active painkiller ingredient” suggests Shann.

Avoid anti- acids when suffering from indigestion. “Anti- acids weaken the strength of hydrochloric acid in the stomach- its natural defence mechanism” explains Shann. “This results in chronic gastritis, which, left untreated causes serious conditions such as peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.”

How does digestive health impact your life?

“Poor digestive health and damage to the microbiome can induce many conditions,” cautioned Shann. Many experience acne, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, asthma, autism, autoimmune diseases, dental cavities, depression and anxiety, diabetes, eczema, gastric ulcers, hardening of the arteries, inflammatory bowel diseases, malnutrition, and obesity. So nourishing and caring for the digestive system by incorporating probiotics into your lifestyle is essential to improving or preventing these conditions.”

Shann rejects the commonly used phrase, ‘you are what you eat’ and insists it’s actually ‘you are what you absorb.’ “Damage to the gut restricts the ability to break down and absorb food- eating a healthy diet is redundant if you have an unhealthy digestive system,” clarifies Shann.

However, you should still aim to eat healthy balanced meals. Foods high in sugar and low in fibre induce a rapid increase in blood sugar that causes a surge of bad bugs in the gut; immune system activity heightens to counteract this, causing conflict between microbial cells and body cells.

Shann recommends incorporating salmon, kale, liver, sweet potatoes, sardines and blueberries into your diet, as these foods “foster cooperation between body cells and microbial cells.”

So pour yourself a large cold glass of fizzing kefir to soothe and improve your health and wellbeing!
Try meadowsweet tea instead of paracetamol, it contains salicylic acid – an active painkiller ingredient
Shann Nix Jones is a certified nutritionist, gut health expert and author of three best-selling books on gut health, including The Kefir Solution: Natural Healing for IBS, Depression and Anxiety.

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