Gut health is very importantly one of the leading areas of research in nutrition, mental health and weight management. We understand now, more than ever that the link between our gut bacteria and our mental and physical health goes hand in hand. Let's look at how we can take real notice of what our toilet habits may be telling us. When every cell in your body, every hormone and every organ relies on your gut absorbing the maximum amount of nutrients in order to function at its best... when stress, toxicity exposure, processed food, alcohol and especially medications like the pill and antibiotics compromise the ability for your gut to do its job, then you start to understand why all health starts in the gut and this is where we need to look first if you are not meeting your goals. 

How do I know my gut is working how it's meant to?
  • You should feel energised after you eat your meals, not lethargic 
  • You should not be bloated, or have painful gas or cramps when you eat
  • You should have two-three easy to pass bowel motions everyday. They should be solid, brown, and not awful in smell
  • You should sleep well
  • You should have healthy, glowing skin
  • Your weight should be stable if you're healthy, or you should be seeing optimal weight loss if you're training and eating correctly for your body

How do I know if my gut isn't functioning at its best?
 
You may experience one or more of these symptoms ocassionally and it may not always be related to gut, but this is a good indication of where to start. If you experience anything on this list then start with your gut health, your diet and your stress levels. 
  • Bloating during or after eating meals or for no apparent reason
  • Frequent gas, and/or smelly gas
  • Cramps during or after eating
  • Bowel motions are too slow, too fast, too liquid, or painful to pass, or have mucus or undigested food components within
  • You are not seeing results in your health or weight goals
  • You're tired, lack energy when you should feel good, and either sleep really well without feeling energised in the morning, or don't sleep well. 

If I'm not functioning at my best, how do I fix this?
 
We wrote a simple guide to getting your gut health on track here but it can take a long time to diagnose if you're having issues with certain foods, or if something more drastic needs to happen to help repair damage and get you back on track.
 
The most important changes everyone can make first and foremost are:
  • Look at the Bristol Stool chart, and start assessing what your bathroom habits are telling you. You don't know what you don't know, so you need to look. 
  • If you've been on antibiotics or had a stomach bug in the last few months, you need to use a multi-strain probiotic and help replace the gut bacteria that would have been killed or lost during this time. See your holistic nutritionist, pharmacist or naturopath for what will work best for you. 
  • Stop eating at your work desk - we have to learn again that eating is about being mindful and allowing your brain and stomach to work together as biology intended. If your brain is focusing on the computer then in the most simple terms we can offer, your stomach gets food without warning and struggles to keep up.
  • Start eating more cooked than raw foods to see if the gentle options that are easier to digest are more manageable for your body.
  • If you're not vegan, make bone broth and drink it every morning. Some of the benefits and the recipes can be found here. 
  • Check your coffee consumption. If you're drinking too much or drinking under stress then you be finding your toilet visits are too frequent and too fast. 

This list isn't exhaustive and often what can trigger one person won't trigger another and so on, so it's important to find out what your individual situation is and work with someone to help you establish that.