Winter can often be a time of total indulgence; nights spent in front of the TV sipping hot chocolate (or wine), days spent indoors huddled by the heater. When you combine that with battling colds and flus over winter, it’s no wonder then that many of us find ourselves feeling bloated, sluggish and generally under the weather by the time Spring rolls around.
What many people don’t know is that the health of your gut can play a huge role in your overall health and wellness. Nutritionist and herbalist at BioCeuticals, Stephanie Berglin says that balancing your gut is essential not only for digestive health but also for supporting a healthy immune system.
Now that Spring is here, it’s time to consider Spring cleaning your gut. The following five tips will have you feeling re-energised, with a Spring in your step in no time!
1. Drink more water
Before you roll your eyes and think that this one is too good to be true, take a moment to remember that our body is more than 60% water! Your gut needs water to keep bacteria and waste travelling through your digestive system, without constipation and bloating. Resist the urge to hydrate with sugary drinks like soft drinks though – these feed the “bad” gut bacteria in the bowel.
2. Herbal teas
There are a number of herbal teas that can do wonders for your gut, particularly if you’re feeling bloated and irritated. Chamomile, peppermint and liquorice root teas all help to reduce bloating and gas and support the digestive process.
3. Swap caffeine for natural eye-openers
A hot coffee can be a comforting winter warmer, and a way to beat the 3pm slump. However, an excess of caffeine can cause an imbalance in your gut by producing too much stomach acid. Coffee is also known to exacerbate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so it could be worth cutting back to one coffee per day and seeing how this benefits your bloating.
4. Incorporate probiotics into your diet
If you’ve had to take antibiotics throughout winter, or if your immune system is out of whack, you may be experiencing an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Without good bacteria in your gut, your body may struggle to keep viruses and gastrointestinal upsets at bay.
A probiotic-rich diet can help strengthen your immune system and help ease the symptoms of an unbalanced gut. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like yoghurt, fermented vegetables and tempeh. If you’re struggling to include these in your diet, you can speak to your healthcare practitioner about a probiotic supplement.
5. Manage stress
It can be hard to believe that your gut could be linked to your stress levels, but the truth is that your digestion is controlled by your entire nervous system. When stress activates your ‘fight or flight’ responses in your nervous system, your digestive process can be halted and can exacerbate other gastrointestinal issues.
Try practising 10 simple, deep breaths a day to lower your stress levels. It may sound simple, but it can do wonders for relaxing your body and mind.
Stephanie is a nutritionist, herbalist and iridologist. She is currently a technical editor at BIoCeuticals. Click here for more strategies on how to improve your gut health