health

'I tried 6 things to improve my gut in 2 weeks, and found myself feeling so much better.'

Nutra-Life
Thanks to our brand partner, Nutra-Life

I try to look after my body. I really do. I exercise daily. I eat a vegetarian diet and keep my alcoholic drinks to weekends (no mean feat, considering we're into our sixth month of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions here in Melbourne).

It's corny, but we only have one body and should treat it like the temple it is.

The thing is, most of my time, energy and money is spent on treating myself at the hair salon, beautician or at the cosmetics counter. I know the tummy troubles I experience could do with the same attention, yet I have largely ignored it. So many of us who suffer from symptoms directly related to poor gut health continue to just live with them. Not me, not anymore.

I decided it was my mission to try a few simple changes over two weeks to try and improve my gut. Here's what I tried, and how I went...

1. Keeping a digestion diary.

Think of it as a love letter to yourself. If you really want to find out the reason for your gut issues, a diary might help. Write down everything you eat, how you feel afterwards, your mood and even the frequency of your toilet visits.

An example of mine: "9.24pm. Netflix. Husband suggests we open the corn chips. Feel parched. Proceed to wash it down with iced coffee. Not best idea. Watch some TV and feel my insides squelching. Uh-oh. Really uncomfortable and try sitting up straight. Nope, not helping."

It was a lesson for me about which habits set my gut off, and what I could do to avoid them. When things are listed then it can clearly show any patterns and help you figure out how to avoid discomfort where possible. Take the diary with you when you visit your doctor too.

2. Trying a gut relief supplement.

I don't know if it's iso-slump, stress, excess caffeine or the winter chill zapping my motivation but I've had all sorts of issues going on with my gut, with indigestion being the most uncomfortable. Rather than put up with not feeling quite right, I tried an easy two-week Nutra-Life Gut Relief detox that helped turn many of these problems around.

A pre-portioned sachet or scoop of the orange and mango-flavoured powder taken daily was all it took for me to notice a difference. The Gut Relief remedy combines prebiotics with key nutrients and plant extracts to help soothe gut irritation, relieve indigestion and nourish good bacteria.

Have it in mango and orange flavour. Image: Supplied. 

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There's slippery elm, globe artichoke, marshmallow root and aloe vera in there and after a few days I felt a lot more comfortable after eating - despite some greasy takeaway deliveries - with a lot less gurgles and rumbles. Issues with, erm, excess gas may be solved by drinking the mixture too, but of course as a lady, it's never been a problem for me (wink-wink).

Gut Relief is free from gluten, wheat, animal products, dairy products, egg, artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.

3. Chomping and chewing. Slowwwwly.

With my nutritious nourish bowl from The Turtle Elwood. Image: Supplied. 

I say this often to my pre-schooler and should heed my own advice. Chewing your food purposefully, slowly and into smaller pieces makes the world of difference to discomfort after meal times. It's often said you should chew each mouthful up to 30 times before you swallow, but this really does differ based on what food you're eating.

Anyway, I generally wolf food down in big amounts, usually trying to finish so it doesn't go cold and before helping the kids. I'd feel my meal sit there inside my gut, like it didn't know what to do after the onslaught.

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Over the past two weeks, I've tried to eat with my kids, setting an example that there's no rush, and if you chew your food properly, it means you get to enjoy dinner without that 'too full' feeling.

4. Eating the whole grain.

Fibre comes from plant-based food that cannot be digested, and its health benefits are HUGE. It is a type of carb that helps keep our digestive systems in check.

I sought out wholegrain pasta, high-fibre bread and stocked up on muesli to make a big dietary change with little effort. A little more than banana, muesli, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, milk and yoghurt and you have yourself a delish chai-spiced smoothie bowl, which is now on my regular breakfast menu.

I am consciously getting more fibre sources into my diet, like vegetables and fruit (including the skin), wholegrains, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans (mmm Mexi-bean bowls). The bonus is that high-fibre foods also help you feel fuller for longer, so you don't undo all your good work with a mouthful of junk food when you're peckish.

5. Consuming probiotics and prebiotics.

I used to see people clutching their kombucha and roll my eyes, thinking it was the newfangled drink trend for hipsters and yogis. That was until I read about the real benefits of probiotics for your gut's health and well, who's laughing now?

An imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut can cause symptoms of digestive discomfort and in turn affect your mental health and immune health – leaving you more susceptible to colds, the flu and other infections.

Probiotics are essential for gut health and are in foods such as live yoghurt, kimchi, miso and kombucha. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria and are in foods like onion, garlic, bananas, asparagus, olives, apples, grains and nuts.

For me, eating foods like garlic sauteed asparagus as a side dish, adding a big dollop of Greek yoghurt to the top of my lentil dahl or a handful of shallots as a garnish has been an easy change to make in my everyday routine.

If you're not getting enough probiotics and prebiotics in your diet from natural sources, like Nutra-Life Gut Relief can help.

A gut health supplement can help. Image: Supplied. 

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6. Stressing less.

I didn't realise, but stress can cause gut imbalance. Explains a lot really.

It turns out that gut and mood is so interconnected that your gut health can affect your mental health and vice versa. There's scientific research on the 'gut-brain axis', a pathway in which signals from the gut can affect neurotransmitters in the brain. That's why it's important to get enough rest, do things to manage stress (like meditation and exercise) and try not to worry about the things out of your control.

Stress? Oh, we're trying not to... Image: Supplied. 

With my hometown in lockdown, no in-person contact with friends or family and a virus spreading, getting on top of the stress and anxiety is my biggest struggle.

I use every minute of my daily hour of exercise to clear my mind and help get a feeling of normality, which has helped ease the tension I've been feeling for months.

After two weeks, my 'get gut fit' mission is almost complete. I feel so much better these days than I did before implementing these simple changes. It's all a work in progress though, I remind myself. Overcoming the feelings of stress will be the last piece of the puzzle. 

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For more gut fit tips, visit Nutra-Life's Get Gut Fit info hub.

Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional.

Nutra-Life
Are you experiencing digestive discomfort and looking to get your gut back on track? Try Nutra-Life Gut Relief. It combines the power of prebiotics with key nutrients and plant extracts – slippery elm, globe artichoke, marshmallow & aloe vera – to help soothe gut irritation, protect gut lining, and nourish gut bacteria. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly consult your health professional.
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