There has been a lot of discussion on the area of gut health - which is great as it is a very important organ to take care of. Our gut is responsible for many processes in the body including digestion, metabolism, immunity and connection with the brain (gut-brain axis). However, there are some important considerations when introducing "gut nourishing" foods into your diet which could potentially impede your progress and success in the long run.
To start of with - gut nourishing foods indicate foods that have a positive effect on the gut environment or microbiome. This includes foods that contain dietary fibre, prebiotics, probiotics or other dietary interventions such as reduced red meat intake and alcohol.
Here are four common mistakes when it comes to starting a gut nourishing diet:
1) You are doing it too quickly with not enough planning
If you are going from 0 to 100 in one day, chances are you are feeling some gut discomfort - especially if you are increasing dietary fibre in your diet. Gut-health promoting foods (e.g. fibre, prebiotics, probiotics) naturally increase gut activity such as gas. Therefore it is important to introduce these foods slowly and with a plan so that you aren't experiencing symptoms that make you regret starting your gut health journey. For example, swap one lower fibre food to a higher fibre alternative across a week or two. This can help your gut adapt to the new changes to your diet and avoid undesirable symptoms.
2) You are choosing foods that you dont like!
Achieving good gut health is all about making it sustainable in the long term, if you are including foods in your diet that you dislike but eating it 'anyway' because Dr Google said its a super gut food.. how long do you think you'll last? For example, you don't have the eat Kale just because the internet raves about it - you can opt for a similar green leafy alternative such as spinach. It is better to choose somthing you will enjoy rather than not having it at all.
3) Not drinking enough water
Our intestines need adequate fluid so that the stools (or poo) can easily pass through. You can become constipated if you are not drinking enough fluids (preferably water). A recent study has shown that drinking water has positive effects on the gut (which we probably aready knew anyway but with more science to back this recommendation is always a win!). (Tiphaine Vanhaecke et al. 2022)
4) Too focused on 'gut-foods' and forgetting other aspects of diet/lifestyle
It is very easy to dive too deep and lose your focus. Reflect on why you started this journey to begin with. Apart from your diet, lifestyle factors including physical activity, sleep and stress could also have an impact on your gut health.
After reading this, have a reflection on your current regime on achieving good gut health. Where do you think you could improve?
At Four Seasons Dietetics, our dietitians are experienced with managing gut conditions including IBD, IBS and food intolerances. They could also assist to help develop a gut nourishing plan that is achievable, realistic and sustainable in the long term. Book an appointment here to start your gut health journey with us.