Before you go worrying about which strains of probiotics you should be consuming and in what dosage, lets look at the basics. Start there, get the basics down pat and then we can start adding the fancy parts then, for the majority of you reading this however and I include myself in this can see big improvements from minimal effort.
In the last article we spoke of how our lifestyle choices have an enormous impact on our microbiome. Namely our food choices, antibiotics and general stress.
Starting off with antibiotics, there role is to nuke bacteria and a side effect to that is going to be an impacted microbiome because those antibiotics aren’t going to really take not of good or bad, rather knocking it all off one by one.
With this in mind, do not confuse my words, I am not playing doctor, I am not suggesting you don’t take these antibiotics, rather- I am suggesting once you come off them, what choices can you make to repopulate your intestines with good bacteria.
The easiest way is adding a little pre or probiotic rich foods into your diet. Maybe you’re a smoothie person, rather than an over-ripened banana, whack a green banana in your smoothie, some Jerusalem artichokes or asparagus to your lunches- all great prebiotic options.
Adding a little yoghurt to your day, provided it is loaded with good bacteria ie live cultures is a great probiotic option- as are fermented beverages such as kombucha, kefir etc.
Be mindful with the yoghurts and kombucha that you aren’t opting for flavours that are loaded with sugars or sweeteners, although there is a lot of sugar initially in the first fermentation period of kombucha, the SCOBY gobbles most of it up. The second ferment is where sugars come into the drink- natural fruit options are fine here.
Lets kick on a little more with food, in particular the choices we are making on a daily basis.
It comes as no shock I am sure, but slamming KFC at lunch, McDonalds at dinner and soft drinks in between is not going to do you any favours. Your diet doesn’t need to be perfect to achieve health and wellbeing, but there are a few staples that when making up the bulk of your diet will make life a lot easier in the pursuit of health.
Put as simply as possible, more fibre, more vegetables, more water, better quality protein options and less processed foods across the board.
Re-read that micro-paragraph.
One more time.
For most people, that will make an enormous difference to not only how you look, but how you feel and perform which is what each of us really focus on.
If you’re starting out on a health kick now and you can’t remember the last time you ate a vegetable then that is your first step. Dark green vegetables, buy a few different types and add a fist or two of them cooked to each meal.
Being healthy isn’t just adding in good things, it’s taking out bad things too. If you want to make sure you stick to your progress plan then I recommend that you do a one for one. Each time you add one good thing, you take one bad out- say for example you add the green vegetables to each meal, you may also take out the cookies you inhale at afternoon tea. After a few weeks, add one more good, take out one more bad.
This way you aren’t changing everything all at once, you will keep progress ticking over and you won’t be overwhelmed by trying to change everything at once.
The third simple thing that you can do to make a hiiiii-yooooooooooggggeee impact on your gut health is to, well- chill.
Take a big deep breathe of air in your nose, holding it for a couple seconds and then slowwwwwwly breathe it out your mouth. Think 3 seconds in, 3 seconds hold and 4 second exhale. If you feel a tiny bit more relaxed just from that one breathe, then you could probably do with adding a few stress management tips.
The good news is, they don’t need to be enormous time consumers.
You have two main paths you can go down, one is avoiding stressful situations (for me leaving everything until the last minute, so I avoid it by working on time management) and the other is adding stress pressure releases (for me it is going for a walk during the day, on my own, just relaxing- not everyones cup of tea).
If you are short on time and I get it- most of us are. There are a tonne of great apps to get you started on meditation and it doesn’t need to be a big time grabber- it can be as simple as two minutes to just slow down, relax and then get going again.
Exercise in general is a big stress relief- get moving. Whether it be in a gym, on a sporting field, a walk, swim or bike ride. Move- move enough to get the feel good hormones pumping.
Between now and the next article in this series where we will look further at prebiotics and probiotics, I want you to really try and implement two of the three areas spoken of in this article.
Add a little good, remove a little of the ‘less than ideal’.
Move a little more and take out the processed sugars. Add green vegetables, two minute meditation in the morning and take out a little stress. The main thing to remember is to just start slow, of course these things all seem really easy and probably seem quite minimal, I must remind you however it is these basics that will get the ball rolling and rolling along at a really nice pace too.
Until next time, love your guts!