So this evening, as I settle down to put (digital) pen to (electronic) paper, I am informed by Google that it World Digestive Health Day! Hosted by the World Gastroenterology Organisation annually on 29 May, the aim is to increase general public awareness of the prevention, prevalence, diagnosis, management and treatment of digestive health diseases and disorders. What better time, I thought, than to use this as #inspo for todays post, and talk all things Gut Health!
From 15 – 18 May, The Mac Twins brought their Gut Stuff pop-up to the south-west for a Bristol Takeover. With support from brands such as Symprove, Bimuno, Yeo Valley and Kelloggs (yup, the Kelloggs!), the four-day pop-up on Bristol’s Harbourside became the go-to for fibre gains, gut facts and happy tums.
I had found out about the Bristol Takeover from Instagram, and took the opportunity to head down to the pop-up on its last day, for a Saturday morning of ‘Brunch and Basics’. (Shout-out to Gemma, Kim & Carol – the lovely ladies behind Force Mujer – and Jules (blondeveguk) for letting me join you, and forming, what I can only describe as a Gut Health Girl Band for the morning!)
What is The Gut Stuff?
The Gut Stuff was created by Lisa and Alana Macfarlane – The Mac Twins. As identical twins, they are ideal subjects for medical research and became the chosen duo of Professor Tim Spector and the Twin Research Dept. at Kings College, London. It was discovered that despite having identical DNA, the twins had only 40% of the same gut microbiota. This unexpected but exciting finding lead to them establishing The Gut Stuff – a platform with a mission to make gut health more digestible for the masses (pun 100 per cent intended, forgive me). The Mac Twins now bring their knowledge, gut health partners and 4ft infographics about poo, to social media and city takeovers, like this one in Bristol.
With 1 in 3 people now suffering from digestive issues and gut health affecting everything from mental health to Parkinson’s – their message is not only timely but NECESSARY.The Gut Stuff (.com)
This event wasn’t an in depth review of research, or a lecture in how we absolutely should be eating to support 5-star digestive health. No. It was more of an introduction into the ABC’s of the gut, and why (and how) we might want to pay a little more attention to what our gut might be telling us.
I knew very little about gut health before this event, and whilst my understanding is still (as the name suggests) basic, I feel like it’s sparked my intrigue to keep learning. So, in the hope I can do the same for you, I wanted to share my key take-away nuggets of knowledge, in the hope that it encourages you to make some simple changes in your own diet and lifestyle to promote a healthier gut! Here goes:
- The Gut is known as the “second brain“. There is a gut-brain axis – a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain. Which makes sense, y’know, when you think about how hunger can affect your mood, how you feel nauseous when nervous and inexplicably happy when you eat a tasty tasty meal. After all, 95% of serotonin (our ‘happy’ hormone) is produced in the gut…
- There’s no ‘one size fits all’ in gut health. Even the regularity of bowel movements is super individual to you (that’s right, I went there – we’re talking about poo). ‘Regular’ can mean anything from 1-3 times per day, to 3 times per week! Pay attention to your poo, folks, it could tell you more than you think about your current eating habits and even stress levels.
- We should be chewing each bite of food 40 times before swallowing. Digestion starts at the mouth, so failing to chew your food properly can have an impact further down the (digestive) line. No more eating in a rush, be more mindful of your mouthful!
- Keep a food diary. If you’ve noticed you have intermittent ‘tummy troubles’, a food/lifestyle diary might help you figure out the cause behind it. Keep tabs on your dietary intake, water intake, stress levels, sleep – it can all have an impact.
Disclaimer – a food diary cannot of course diagnose any underlying medical conditions, so go and see a medical professional if problems persist with no obvious or apparent cause. Take your food diary to show them!
- We should be eating 30 different varieties of fruits and veggies per week. That may sound like a lot, but you might surprise yourself with how many you’re already getting. Meals such as a stir-fry could already include 5 or more – just try and incorporate an additional colourful dinner into your meal plan each week!
- We have a huge number of different strains of bacteria in our gut, which all enjoy chowing down on different foods. When you eat a particular food, that particular bacteria thrives. So – a word to the wise – whilst doughnuts are undeniably delicious, when you eat a doughnut, your doughnut bacteria go wild, making it more likely that you’ll want to eat more and more and more doughnuts. I wouldn’t recommend it – let’s not forget about the bacteria that likes leafy greens too, eh?
If you want to know more, maybe how to tell your ‘prebiotic‘ from your ‘probiotic‘, your ‘insoluble fibre‘ from your ‘soluble fibre‘, and what on EARTH this ‘kombucha‘ stuff is all about, make sure to hit up The Gut Stuff online – they have heaps more info, including a lot of the latest research, a video series, infographics and a Gut Glossary. Handy, hey.
Until next time,