While we may be more inclined to hit the gym and feel external pressures to ‘get bikini body ready’, summer is also the season of barbeques and indulgence.
All of this eating and drinking can take its toll on our liver and gut health, leaving many of us desperate and resorting to restrictive diets or extreme cleanses in order to detox our bodies and feel refreshed again.
Most people don’t realise what a big role the gut has for 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 that will support you right through the festive season.
The good news is there are some key strategies you can follow to spring clean your gut, just in time for the festive fun.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
During the summer months, a mix of heat, sweat and alcohol can leave your body seriously dehydrated. Our body needs water to keep bacteria and waste travelling through our digestive system to avoid constipation and bloating. Just remember to resist the urge to hydrate with sugary drinks like soda or bottled juice. These beverages feed the “bad” gut bacteria in the bowel and while they deceptively quench your thirst, they leave your body unsatisfied in the long run. Always opt for fresh water and if you’re wanting more flavour, try jazzing up your water with citrus fruits and berries, or experiment with coconut water.
Don’t Be A Jitter Bug
An iced coffee is a refreshing summer swap and an energising way to beat the 3pm work slump. However, drinking caffeine in excess 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 prevents bloating. Even better, when cravings kick in try swapping your cup of joe for a herbal tea such as chamomile, peppermint or liquorice root which can all help support the digestive process and reduce bloating and gas. If you need an energy boost, ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a supplement containing activated vitamin Bs or ubiquinol, the activated form of coenzyme Q10.
Stress plays a major role to the health of one of our most important organs, the gut. As strange as it sounds, your digestion is controlled by your entire nervous system. When stress activates the ‘fight or flight’ response in your nervous system, your digestive process halts and can exacerbate other gastrointestinal issues.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try practicing 10 invigorating deep breaths to reset and rebalance. It may sound too good to be true, but over time the simple act of deep breathing can have an immediate impact on relaxing your body and mind.
Introduce Probiotics Into Your Diet
If you suffered with a with a bad cold or flu over winter and had resort to taking antibiotics as a cure, or if your generally feeling a bit out of sync, 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 boost your immune system and help ease the symptoms of an unbalanced gut. The good news is that there are quite a few food sources of probiotics – try natural Greek yoghurt, fermented vegetables or tempeh. If you’re struggling to include these in your diet, you can speak to your naturopath about a high quality multistrain probiotic supplement.
Support Your Liver
The liver is the body’s largest organ and its main role is to naturally detoxify the body. It removes nasty, harmful toxins and importantly, helps the body process alcohol. If you are likely to eat and drink more than usual during this time of year, it is worth considering supplementation with milk thistle – a powerful antioxidant that has protective and regenerative effects on the liver as well as reducing liver inflammation. Try supplementing both before and after treating yourself to an extra glass of vino to assist your liver in digesting and removing the alcohol from your body, as well as protecting the liver from any excess.
For more information on how to improve your gut health, visit bioceuticals.com.au/education/articles
Speak to your healthcare practitioner to find out which supplement is right for you. Always read the label.