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Is your tummy doing the talking? Why digestive health tells the story behind many modern ailments

September 2018 Print
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Over 2,000 years ago Hippocrates stated that “all disease begins in the gut” – and in the last few decades research has started to catch up with this traditional wisdom and recognise that a healthy gut promotes good overall health [1]. 

Half our population complain of some digestive problem in any 12-month period [2]

Heartburn, diarrhoea, an ulcer, irritable bowel or Crohn’s disease, colitis, or even bowel cancer [3] are all signs of digestive imbalance. In fact, Australia has one of the highest incidence rates of chronic diseases of the digestive system [4] – and that is one pain in the gut we could all do without.

Are you craving sweets and sugar? Is your skin itchy and blotchy? You may in fact have an imbalance of gut bacteria. An overgrowth of yeast in the system, such as from antibiotics may cause you to crave more sugar and may lead to skin rashes and eczema. Are you regular, suffer bloating or finding the scales are strained? They may be tell-tale stories from the stomach [5].

For many of us, digestive disorders are a source of irritation and discomfort 

They may cause us to miss work, reduce social activities, avoid exercise, and experience impaired sleep quality – yet the optimal functioning of your gastrointestinal system depends on several factors. These include effective digestion via adequate gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes, a healthy intestine for nutrient absorption and protection, and finally, balanced microbiota [6], which according to research, control every aspect of our wellbeing, from the size of our bellies to the risk of chronic disease. Even our mental wellbeing has some link with our gut. [7]. So, if you’re feeling like your tummy needs some TLC, consider these tips:

1. Remember, what goes in must come out, so feed your good bacteria

It is well documented that having a healthy and varied diet is crucial to good digestive health. Medications especially antibiotics, excess consumption of alcohol and refined sugars and low dietary intake of prebiotic-rich fibres can exacerbate digestive issues. So be kind to your gut. They don’t like processed foods but will say thanks to more plant-based meals including garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, apples and flaxseed. And consider adding fermented foods into your diet, including yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and kefir that contain natural probiotics.

2. Take care of your heart too

A good workout is also vital. Keeping your heart fit physically may also increase the number of beneficial gut bacteria[8] so run, walk, hike, play tennis, swim, yoga or whatever gets your breathing and moving the air through your lungs. It’s great for your mental wellbeing too.

3. Don’t let your tummy do the talking but listen to its message – go pro

Digestive issues can really have a profound effect on your daily life, but remember your tummy is telling you something – just don’t let it take over. A healthy lifestyle and diet supplemented with pre and or probiotics can make a big difference. It has been said that 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts', and this is especially true of probiotics. A multi-strain probiotic in combination with a prebiotic such as inulin is beneficial for digestive health; while combining with concentrated Fish Oil Capsules or Liquid - Omega-3 DHA and EPA may help ease inflammation. But make sure to see your GP or natural healthcare practitioner to rule out more serious health conditions.

References available on request

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