Join Our Newsletter

...and like us on Facebook

* indicates required

7 Easy Steps To A Happier, Healthier Gut

Healthier Gut

A properly functioning digestive system (a healthier gut) is critical to good health.

In fact, 60 -80% of our immune system is located in our gut, and 90% of our neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for regulating mood) such as serotonin are made in our gut.

Problems in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea; they can be the root cause of many chronic health problems.

Gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid issues, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema and rosacea… just to name a few.

Still, the most common way people notice a problem in their gut is when they start regularly experiencing digestive issue like bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

While taking probiotics and drinking more water are helpful to your gut health, they’re not a cure for digestive issues.

Rather, the biggest factors in digestive health are your diet and lifestyle.

Here are nine easy steps we recommend for a healthier, happier gut:

1. Eat the right kind of fiber.

You may have heard that fiber helps with symptoms of constipation, but there are actually two types of fiber we should all be aware of: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fibers actually slow digestion, which prevents quick spikes in your blood sugar, whereas insoluble fibers help move food through your intestines, which can help prevent constipation.

Insoluble fibers are found in nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, seeds, and rice, while soluble fibers can naturally be found in oats, beans, peas, flaxseed, berries, and apples.

Make sure to avoid soluble fibers added to processed foods that add sugar substitutes made from dextrose, sorbitol, and citric acid, which can cause gas and bloating.

2. Buy veggies with flavonoids.

Certain fruits and vegetables have more molecules known as flavonoids, which make up their bright pigments.
Flavonoids are very beneficial for your digestion due to their anti-inflammatory properties and they assist in digestion of starch. A powerful antioxidant, flavonoids are found in romaine lettuce, onions, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and bell peppers. Incorporating more flavonoid-filled veggies can help you maintain healthier gut.

3. Find a method of stress management.

Stress not only affects your mental state but can also take a toll on your physical well-being. Stress negatively affects every part of your digestive system, causing your colon to spasm or even increases the acid in your stomach, causing indigestion.

If you’re not exercising regularly, we recommend finding a workout or active activity you can do at least three times per week for a healthier gut. It can relieve tension and release endorphins that improve your mood. Eating a healthy diet and deep breathing can also drastically relieve stress.

4. Sleep eight hours a night.

Many people who have GI problems also have issues falling asleep. Multiple studies have found a relationship between sleep disorders and GERD, IBS, IBD, and ulcers.

A solid eight hours of sleep is imperative to keep your digestive track healthy—and coincidentally keeps your mind and body healthy. So if you already suffer from a digestive issue, it’s important to work on your sleep schedule.

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners can be extremely detrimental to your digestive health because they don’t get digested properly meaning bacteria will break them down and cause problems.

6. Make smart alcohol choices for a healthier gut.

Occasional alcohol intake is fine for your digestive system. However, excessively drinking alcohol can lead to digestive issues such as heartburn and inflammation of the stomach, and it can even increase the risk of small intestine cancers and leaky gut.

Not only does alcohol create problems, it can also increase symptoms of IBS and can cause both diarrhea and constipation.

7. Prevent “leaky gut.”

Bloating, gas, cramps, digestive irregularities, aches and pains are all symptoms of a leaky gut.

Leaky gut is just a term to describe the increased intestinal permeability that can happen if there’s inflammation in the intestines.

The gut is naturally permeable to very small molecules in order to absorb these vital nutrients.

In sensitive people, factors like gluten, toxins, stress and age can cause the gut cells to release a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. Once these tight junctions get broken apart, you have a leaky gut.

When your gut is leaky, things like toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more can escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. The immune response to these invaders can appear in the form of any of the nine signs you have a leaky gut, which are listed below.

9 signs you may have a leaky gut:

  1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  2. Seasonal allergies or asthma.
  3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.
  4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
  5. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
  6. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.
  7. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.
  8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.
  9. Food allergies or food intolerances.

*NOTE: If you’re constantly experiencing digestive irregularities and diet changes are not making a difference, go to a medical professional, such as a gastroenterologist, who will help you diagnose your symptoms correctly and effectively.

x DD


If you’d like advice on getting a healthier gut, book a consultation with a Dietitian.

7 sugar rules we follow

sugaronwoodentable-1400x450
The FDA recently proposed putting added sugars on a product’s nutrient label, a move that did not please the food industry. As consumers become savvier, manufacturers seem determined to make understanding sugar even more confusing.

Sticking with a whole food, unprocessed diet is the easiest way to avoid sugar confusion. When you eat broccoli or quinoa, you don’t need to worry about added sugar or sneaky sweeteners. But we live in the real world, which means sometimes you’re going to eat processed foods or add a little sweetener to your green tea. When you do, keep these seven rules in mind to make the best decisions:

1. Remember: added sugar is worse than total sugar.

All sugars ultimately have the same effect on your body, breaking down to glucose and fructose. That said, sugar in fruit and other whole foods comes wrapped with nutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and other good stuff that buffers its effects. Added sugars, on the other hand, often come in nutrient-empty, heavily-processed foods, which automatically deems them worse for your waistline and your health.

2. Sugar hides under innocuous-sounding names.

Manufacturers hide sugar under seemingly healthy names like fruit juice concentrate. Your pancreas and liver don’t care whether sugar comes in an organic package or carries a pretty name. It all breaks down the exact same way.

3. Sneaky sugars lurk in “healthy” foods.

Visit your health food store and you’ll likely discover numerous products sweetened with agave nectar, honey and other so-called healthy sweeteners. Don’t be fooled. A health bar could have as much sugar as a chocolate bar. Look at the nutrient label for sugar amounts, being aware this is for one serving and you’re likely to eat several portions.

4. Artificial sweeteners aren’t better for you.

For far too long, artificial sweeteners got a free pass. Then a few troubling studies surfaced that found, among other things, aspartame and other sweeteners created glucose intolerance (paving the way for Type 2 diabetes) and gut-flora imbalances. Steer clear of those pretty pink, yellow, and blue packages.

5. Green juices can have as much sugar as a coke.

One popular commercial green juice, which actually contains more fruit than veggies, packs almost 55 grams — that’s 11 teaspoons — of sugar in a bottle. If you juice, make your own or ask your juicer to only add veggies with maybe a little lemon/ one small green apple for flavor.

6. Be judicious when buying natural alternative sweeteners.

If you have to sweeten your coffee or tea, erythritol, xylitol or stevia provide better options. Just be aware many commercial varieties come loaded with nebulous “natural flavors,” dextrose (sugar) and maltodextrin (corn). Instead, look for a 100 percent xylitol, stevia or a stevia/ erythritol blend with no bulking agents or other added ingredients.

7. Fructose is especially metabolically damaging.

Unlike glucose, which nearly every cell can utilize, fructose heads directly to your liver, the only organ that can metabolize high levels of it. Studies show that fructose induces less insulin production and triggers hunger signals in the brain. Rather than utilize this sugar for energy, our body often turns fructose into liver fat. This increase in visceral fat has been shown to increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If you want us to take the stress away from hidden-sugar searching, label-reading we will create your meals for you! All our food is sugar free, artificial sweetener free and preservative free so you don’t have to worry about a thing! Email us on hello@dailydietitian.co.za or go to our website.

x DD