By All Bodies Nutritionist
Gut health is the basis of all health. In your gut microbiome, there are trillions of microbes playing a role in communicating with everything from your immune system to your mood. This bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system (brain) and the enteric nervous system (gut) is called the ‘gut-brain axis’.
Not only does the food we eat influence our gut microbiome but also our lifestyle including our stress levels and quality of sleep. Life happens and avoiding stress can be challenging, but if you aren’t sleeping right or your stress levels are through the roof, no amount of gut-boosting eating can outdo a stressful lifestyle.
Gut symptoms like excessive gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, to name a few are normally more prevalent when we are the busiest, most stressed or anxious. A non-diet approach to reducing gut symptoms targets this gut-brain axis and works to implement lifestyles changes to ensure quality sleep and balancing stress levels.
Our brain and bodies are not made to be constantly on the go, they become fatigued, stress levels rise, and our gut microbiome is impacted.
So, what some lifestyle strategies to implement to reduce stress and improve digestion?
1) Breathe: Every time you sit down to eat practice breathing for 10 slow diaphragmatic breathes.
2) Chew your food: Chewing starts the digestion process, a lot of the time we don’t chew enough, and the rest of our digestive system has to work overtime to compensate for our laziness to chew.
3) Good sleep hygiene:
- Ensure regular sleep routines: aim to get to sleep at similar times each day, preferably before 10 pm
- Avoid technology 1 hour before bed. Instead try reading, journaling, yoga before bed.
- Create an evening routine to help you wind down at the end of a day.
5) Schedule “do-nothing time” each day: Block time in each day, can be just 10 minutes to do nothing, let your thoughts wonder and reframe any negative thoughts. The thoughts we have create our life, ensure they are aligned with your goals and values.
Sometimes bad gut symptoms aren’t completely from food intolerances, but rather lifestyle factors playing on your gut-brain axis.