Did you know that our gut and brain are in constant communication? Butterflies in your belly when you’re feeling nervous or excited, stomach-rumbling hunger pangs, and a deep knot-like sensation when gripped by stress or fear are all examples of the complex connection between the two. These hidden signals have a huge effect on our overall health.
“Hello, are you there?” said the gut to the brain
If your gut isn’t healthy, then communication may be off. Your gut is able to send signals to the brain via nerves, hormones and microbiota, and everything, from our mood to our immune system, is affected. Signs that your gut is in less than top shape can include gas, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, food intolerances, mood swings, skin irritations, fatigue, weight loss or weight gain, and even migraines.
What does a healthy gut mean?
To keep the communication channels flowing between the gut and the brain, we need to maintain a good level of health and wellbeing. A healthy digestive system contains trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes, as well as immune cells – since 70-80 per cent of our immune system lies in the gut – that fight off infections and viruses. A diet that supports these good bacteria will keep your gut healthy, such as probiotic foods including yogurt, kimchi and miso, and prebiotic foods like wholegrains, fresh fruit and vegetables. Plus, daily exercise keeps our system moving, making it easier to pass waste.
How well is your digestive system working? Take the beetroot test:
01 Eat a large portion of beetroot on its own
02 Take note of the date/time you ate it
03 Keep an eye on the color of your stools
04 When your stool is red, note down the date/time
05 Calculate the time between your meal and red bowel movement
What the results mean:
10 hours or less – your digestion is too fast, so you might not be absorbing enough nutrients from your food.
12-24 hours – this is the ideal time, which means your system is in good working order.
72 hours or more – far too slow, which is a sign of constipation.
If you don’t fall into the ideal time slot, try these solutions:
Too fast? Eat more slowly, chew food properly, and cut down on stimulants such as coffee.
Too slow? Add more high-fiber foods to your diet, and drink plenty of water.
Further explore the topic of digestive disorders with our audio and video content pieces. They offer holistic solutions and expert advice, and will empower you to take an active and preventative role in your health.