Sandra's 5 Gut-Changing Principles

Written by Sandra Mikhail, founder and director of Nutrition A-Z

Happy new year everyone! Whilst it's always hard to add the word "happy" at the start of another year in a pandemic, we truly wish you've had a healthy and restful start!

Today, I personally wanted to share my top 5 gut-changing principles that has shaped my clients' wellbeing and gut health. Here are the 5 principles you can try :

1. Focus on diversity

Our gut microbiome thrives from variation. Feed your gut microbiome well and they will in turn keep your body running well.⁠ ⁠Now, do you know what these conditions have in common: allergies, autoimmune conditions, inflammatory disorders and obesity? Poor Microbial Diversity. ⁠
⁠Enter 30 plants per week to ensure you expose your body (GM) to a range of nutrients including a diverse range of fibres. 

Per week, aim to have:⁠
  • 13-15 different vegetables⁠
  • 5 different fruits⁠
  • 3 different pulses 
  • 4 different grains and cereals 
  • 5 different nuts and seeds⁠
  • A variety of herbs and spices (a minimum of 6)

2. Do not neglect the mind pillar

Your brain and your gut are constantly communicating (via the gut-brain axis) and that chatter can definitely be affected by stress. Pain, bloating and other discomforts may be felt more strongly, you may feel nauseous, and you may have changes to the speed of your bowel movements which may lead to constipation or diarrhoea because of stress. The bacteria in your gut are super important for your body too, especially your brain and immune system's health and those can also be impacted by stress! ⁠ 

Our eating habits can change when we are stressed and the amount of air swallowed increases because of stress which may result in heartburn, acid reflux, burping, gassiness, and bloating. ⁠ So never neglect the MIND pillar when it comes to your gut health and find a stress management technique that you'll be consistent with and that works for you. Not only will you feel better mentally, your gut will thank you.

3.Start tracking 

⁠Instead of playing the guessing game, I always suggest keeping a diary at hand where for a minimum of 7 days – max 2 weeks, you can start tracking the following:⁠

  • Foods consumed in detail⁠
  • Beverages in detail⁠
  • Symptoms⁠
  • Timing of symptoms⁠
  • Activity⁠
  • Stress⁠
  • Sleep⁠
  • Stool⁠
  • Menstrual cycle⁠

After your two week log, here’s what your specialist would be looking for (alongside a thorough assessment of your medical and nutrition history):⁠

•Are we seeing patterns?⁠
•Is stress, sleep or mood influencing your symptoms?⁠
•Is a single food causing your symptoms?⁠
•Multiple foods?⁠

If you’re suspecting a food intolerance, don’t try to figure things out on your own, we are here to help! 

4.Aim for 15 minutes of movement daily

Movement is something that so many of my clients have struggled with during this pandemic but I cannot stress enough how important it is for a good gut and your mental health. Regular movement keeps your bowel movements…well, regular!

Also, regular movement can change the composition of your gut microbiome. If that is not reason enough to move your body, I don't know what is. A recent study found that participants who implemented a steady fitness regimen improved the healthy microbes in their gut after just six weeks. The gut reverted back to its prior state after another six weeks of sedentary behaviour, proving that (as always) consistency is KEY! So what would be realistic? Find a form of movement you enjoy and aim for 15 minutes daily AND be consistent with it.

5.Start adding mushrooms to your diet

If you've been part of our community, you would know that mushrooms are a favourite and staple in my diet! Nutritionally, they are a source of beta glucans! What’s that you may ask? They’re the main part of the fibre structure of various plant foods (think mushroom, oats, etc.) They are more difficult for us to digest and are able to be absorbed into the bloodstream allowing distribution around the body.⁠ Beta Glucans found in fungi are known for their health benefits - they can stimulate immune cells to optimise their performance and responsiveness, they increase infection protection even after short term use, they interact directly with gut immune cells (and we know that the gut has a lot to do with our immune system!), and they have shown efficacy in chemotherapy resilience & recovery.⁠

So what does this mean? You already know what I’m going to say - it doesn’t hurt to start adding mushrooms to your diet if you haven’t already! Shiitake and reishi are great for immunity, but chaga is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and cordyceps for athletic performance.⁠

With these 5 suggestions, my clients have noticed drastic changes in their quality of life, their overall wellbeing and the strength and functioning of their gut. If you're struggling to get started, you can book an appointment today and seek support in implementing the big 5 in 2022! 

Gut Health General
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