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It Takes Guts To Be Healthy - The Importance of Good Gut Health

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Health really does come from within! With my 25 years as a qualified massage and beauty therapist, reflexologist and holistic therapist, I know the importance of a healthy digestive system and gut health, as well as its effects on all areas of your body, mind and spirit. Especially your skins health, the health of your hair, tension aches and pains in the body, circulatory issues, weight issues, hormonal issues, the effects of stress and anxiety, mental fatique, mental health issues - such as depression and low moods.

Each day I offer many treatments to my clients such as sacral colon massage, naval candling therapy, detox massage, reflexology as well as facial reflexology, that all focus on the importance of a healthy digestive system and gut health.

It is true that YOU really are what you eat and consume of daily. Consider your health in one year, five years and in 20 years from now, which all depends on the nutrients that are absorbed by your gut today. Your gut health today influences your wellbeing and health of all areas of your body and mind in the future.

You could eat all the healthy foods that your stomach can hold, but if your gut isn't primed to receive them, your health may still suffer.

Gut health has become a popular topic in the health world, and for good reason. Research is in support of a robust gut and that digestive health can affect every part of your body and your risk of disease.

Think of your gut as your home base. It is often overlooked and defiantly underestimated. Your gut is the central control station of your body. Everything that you consume goes into your gut, starting in your mouth, to your stomach, to your small and large intestines nutrients are absorbed and assimilated and then moved to where they need to go throughout your body and then the waste of that you have consumed is removed through the anus.

Our human gut is host to a highly complex ecosystem of microorganism; their function, interaction and various other functions are still a big mystery to modern science. Gut flora alone comprises of an astonishing 95% of the total number of cells in the human body. Meaning you have 10 times the number of microbes than human cells. These microbes weigh about 2-3 kg's. You gut garden is as unique as a snow flake, no microbiome is the same.

While much yet remains undiscovered, we do have a developing understanding of some of the main bacteria existing in both the large and small intestine. There is a growing body of evidence that the therapeutically supplementation of probiotics and digestive enzymes may be helpful in various specific condition. I will explore the science, their uses and various benefits.

Human’s gastro intestinal tract consists of over 400 different species and more than 100 trillion total bacteria. Friendly and bad bacteria form a delicate and constantly changing balance, as they compete to take hold and remain ahead in the game.

We are born with relatively very healthy intestinal tract. After that, age, lifestyle and environmental factors such as:

  • What you inherit from your mother during birth

  • Method of childbirth

  • If you was breastfed

  • Poor eating habits/diet

  • High fat diets

  • Processed foods

  • Anti-inflammatories

  • Fried foods

  • The environment we live in

  • Chemicals we use in our home, personal care products, cleaning products

  • Pesticides in food and in our gardens

  • Our lifestyle

  • Bereavement

  • Recent operations

  • Chlorinated water

  • Stress!!!!!!!!

  • The use of antibiotics in food production as well as in medical treatments (e.g. antibiotics and antibiotics in meat & contraceptive pills)

  • Bacterial infections

  • Additives and preservatives

  • High sugar levels

  • Ageing

  • Traveller’s bugs

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Lack of regular physical activity and exercise

  • Lack of regular fresh air

  • Smoking

  • Drugs we are taking, medication, recreational drugs

  • Not getting enough sleep

  • and many other factors can greatly affect this balance.

The Fundamental of good health depends on how you Absorb, Assimilate and eliminate your food and nutrient. All of these processes are reliant upon the friendly, symbiotic bacteria that inhabit the digestive tract.

Without a good bowel health, your whole body will not be able to function optionally. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep and effective digestion. This will then give you healthier skin, healthier hair and a healthier body and mind.

If you want to enjoy a robust, good health, this can only be achieved if your Colon (Your Gut) is clean and healthy and fully functioning as it should be.

If your Colon is not healthy, toxins can build up within the body which, if not checked, can affect your overall health and wellbeing.

"Leaky Gut" is a term is widely used more now and effects a lot of people including some of the clients that I see.

The gut lining is as thin as the skin of your eyelids. Certain substances, such as vitamins and minerals, are able to cross the lining and get into your bloodstream. But it can also sometimes allow partially undigested food (which still needs to be broken down completely by the digestive system) to cross over into the bloodstream. Which is known as leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability. If the gut is permeable, an intolerance response is more likely to happen resulting in inflammation affecting vulnerable areas, such as the joints and cartilage. This can cause many health issues and common complaints that I see from clients that come to my therapy room, such as chronic stiffness and tension in the muscles of the body

“ As we all know 80% of our Immune system starts from our Gut, and our gut is the largest organ of the Immune system.”

People with a faulty digestion may experience these following symptoms:

  • Low Energy levels

  • Poor Immunity

  • Bloating

  • Burping

  • Rectal itching

  • Iron deficiency

  • Nausea

  • Cracked finger nails

  • Stomach upsets

  • Weight gain

  • Water Retention

  • Frequent gas/especially after a meal

  • Gut Inflammation

  • Food intolerance or Allergies

  • Acne or Eczema

  • Skin complaints

  • Indigestion, Heartburn

  • Headaches, Migraines

  • Constipation or Diarrhoea

  • Candida overgrowth/ Thrush

  • IBS (Irritable bowel Syndrome)

  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

  • Poor memory

  • Depression

  • Low Mood and Mood swings

  • Sluggishness

  • Fatigue

  • Haemorrhoids

From my own personal experience and treating clients that I generally see who are generally middle aged all have between three and fifteen pounds of undigested faecal matter stuck in their colon. Waste matter which gets stuck in the Colon IS highly toxic and suppresses the immune system, which can cause gas, bloating, water retention, weight gain and a sluggish digestive system which dramatically reduces the assimilation of nutrients and a much slower metabolism.

Many experts believe impacted waste material in the Colon can harden and thicken over the years restricting the Colon passage and limiting the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed from the foods that we eat.

On average, you will consume around 60 tons of food in your lifetime - all of which will pass through your digestive system and be digested, nutrients absorbed and waste products removed.

Our digestive system is the focal point of our body, and the ability to absorb nutrients from our food is key to our survival and health of our bodies.

Many illnesses and allergies can be traced to an underlying intestinal problem and diet and lifestyle can play a major part in bowel health.

Constipation is a western problem. As well as IBS, Diverticulitis, Laxative addiction, anal fissures, haemorrhoids, sluggishness, fatigue, bloating and so on...

In the UK we now have a one week 'gut week' each year in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of gut health and to encourage prevention and early diagnosis of problems. This is what I champion with the work that I do and specialise in. The gut is such an intricate part of healing and dealing with pain management and I often recommend some specific lifestyle tips and advice to my clients that are looking to heal or treat their tension, aches and pains as well as emotional issues regarding family, friends or life situations.

The 5 Secrets of A Healthy Gut

Here is what it takes to feed your gut strategically to improve health and reduce risk of chronic disease:

1. Emotional Release

The gut has been referred to as the "second brain" as it contain a network of neutrons that support this intimate relationship with the brain through the vagus nerve. The gut has the power to regulate stress, drives our behaviour, our decision making, and effects our mood and can even influence your emotional state. A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep and effective digestion.

Your gastrointestinal tract is very sensitive to a lot of things such as, your emotions, like anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, elation - all of these feeling and many others can trigger symptoms in the gut.

The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and the intestines and vice versa such as troubled intestine can effect the brain. This also goes for emotions that you are feeling, especially repressed emotions that you may have. These repressed emotions create toxins in the body, such as repressed anger, can completely change the flora of the gallbladder, bile duct and aggrevates the small intestines causing inflammation on the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines. Fear and anxiety also alter the flora in the large intestines, as a result the belly becomes bloated with gas, which ends up causing pain in the large intestines. Often this pain is mistaken for heart and liver problems. Because of the ill-effects of repression, it is recommended that any emotions and any bodily urges, such as coughing, sneezing and passing gas should not be repressed.

  • If you repress fear, the kidneys will be disturbed,

  • anger the liver,

  • greed and possessiveness, the heart and the spleen.

Any repressed emotions create an imbalance in the body, which affects the bodies auto-immune response. If this occurs, the reaction may cause allergies to certain substances, such as pollen, dust and flower scents.

Anger, fear, anxiety, nervousness, jealousy, possessiveness and greed are common human emotions. Yet most people learn in early childhood not to express these negative emotions. As a result, the child begins to repress the natural expressions of these feelings. Its important that we release these emotions, to prevent imbalances in the body and disease causing toxins that disrupt the delicate digestive system.

It's important to remember that digestion symbolises the ability to absorb what we need, and to let go of what we do not need. It is the digestive system where we process our 'stuff', its where we digest our intake and our responses. This is where our feelings can get locked here, unable to find expression or a release. Difficulies in releasing can be a connection to clinging on to something which has already served its purpose. There may be grief or sadness, a holding on that prolongs pain; or a fear of letting go, perhaps due to a lack of trust.

The most important way of dealing with negative emotions and feelings is to observe and release. For example, when anger appears, its important to be completely aware of it, watch this feeling as it unfolds from the beginning to the end and to accept it. From this observation, you can learn about the nature of the anger, why is it there and to then just to let the anger go, releasing it completely and moving on with your day. All negative emotions can be dealt with in this way. Through awareness of the emotion, be it positive or negative, they can easily be released.

There will be people, situations and events we don't like and that we aren't able to change or have any control over. So our best option is to learn how to accept things and to deal with them, whatever they may be.

Accepting things as they are allows us to become more positive, to worry less, embrace change, to let go, to surrender and to give us a greater appreciation and gratitude to what is, a more compassionate perspective on things.

Acceptance isn't resignation or giving up. We can continue to keep moving forward, but accepting things that are beyond our control. Allowing us to feel more peace and joy in our lives.

Such as letting go of the past- we can't change the past, what happened in your past happened, so our only hope is to learn how to accept what is and our past and to move forward. You have to let go at some point to be able to move forward.

To learn new ways to cope- with a difficult issue or a crisis in our life. To make a more conscious decision about how to deal with a difficult situation and how we can manage our emotions more effectively when things go wrong. To learn from the difficulty that is presenting itself and how we learnt to overcome it. This helps us to grow and develop into a healthy human being able to cope in any situation that you could face. Like many of us can at some point in our life. Having ways to cope can be really beneficial to our health and wellbeing.

All that we can control is our efforts and our attitudes to how we see things. To be a good role model and to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. To put your energy into more productive exercises. Eliminating unhealthy coping skills such as; complaining to others. Its important to express how you are feeling, but to do it in constructive ways, that will benefit you and others.

To find out more on ways to help you to let go of your emotions, as well as any repressed emotions that we hold within us, please check out some of my past blog posts on ways to deal with this here:

2. Diet

Food is our medicine and what we eat can have a profound effect on our health. However if your life is fast paced, you may rely on a prepared meal for most of your daily food requirements, and this often means that you are consuming 'dead' food which has little to no nutritional value such as antioxidant activity and virtually no fibre.

Fibre is vital for a health bowel, if you eat a healthy diet, then you will consume lots of fibre.

Really healthy food are the partners of a robust gut health. Avoiding inflammatory foods such as processed and high in starchy carbs and sugar, automatically create inflammation in the gut. Which spreads to the rest of the body and greatly increases your risk of chronic disease.

We need to feed and nurture our gut to calm inflammation with plenty of fresh, whole vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, seaweed and healthy oils such as olive oil and flax seed oil daily. To eat a variety of vegetables and pulses, to give us the proteins, minerals and vitamins essential for a healthy mind and body. And to increase your fibre intake. We should be eating plenty of insoluble fibre (derived from grains and pulses, such as legumes) every day. These foods all contain magnesium, which keeps the muscles of the large intestines functioning well.

The fact that most of us don't get near enough to the recommended levels of 26 - 35g of fibre per day says that most of us for some reason or another are not eating enough fresh wholesome food.

We need to be seeking out foods in their natural, unpolluted state and preparing them in a healthy and wholesome way. We need to avoid the modern farming and food processing methods of our staple ingredients of the typical western diet, such as wheat and diary. The processing that they go through, which were originally wholesome food, is now indigestible and toxic to our system. Instead of buying everything from your supermarket, check out your local health food shop or farmers market for organic and bio-dynamically grown foods that are available. If we can afford it, go organic, it cuts down on the toxins that are in foods and is better for the environment.

Try to avoid meat like poultry and red meat, especially processed meat, eggs, butter, potatoes, sugar, bread, cereal, processed grains, wheat, rice, cheese, pasties, avoid saturated fats and refined sugar, cut down on alcohol, tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, diet drinks, sandwiches, crisps, cookies and diary at all costs for the health of your gut. These types of Westernised foods are associated with an increase in bowel disease.

If you eat meat, then eat grass-fed meats, ensure that the meat has been farmed with care and consideration for the animals welfare, as well as fresh sustainable fish. Its important to take steps to build your digestive strength because meat is much more complex to digest than other foods and it will putrefy in the gut if our digestive system is not strong enough to cope with it, or if we eat it too often. Its important to cook your meat with digestive herbs and spices, to exercise regularly to speed up your metabolism and consuming it only in small portions once or twice a week rather than every day.

Also avoid eating white bread, our digestive systems are not designed to eat processed white bread, the intake of gluten in wheat over many years is believed to be one of the causes of bowel problems. White bread also contains no fibre, Which your gut needs the fibre to help break down food. White bread is made from fine rolled milled flour that is produced so quickly that the starch it contains remains so wrapped up, that our digestive system is unable to get into it. It then ends up becoming undigested food and gets stuck in the colon and the lower bowel area.

Bread made from traditional stone ground flour is easier to digest because of the millstones crack open the wheat, allowing our digestive enzymes to reach the starch and can be easily be broken down.

Eating more fibre in your diet is key to a healthy gut and for it function fully. Its really important to consume soluble fibre (such as oats) as it has more absorbent qualities and tends to be more water retentive. Which makes it more 'gentle' on the digestive system and is often better for people with sensitive bowels than eating insoluble fibre such as wheat bran.

Also its important to give your body some variety of healthy food, eating something different each day for your breakfast, lunches and dinners. Giving your weekly meals a thought each week. It is also a good idea to eat at regular times each day as your body likes routine. If the body expects food to arrive at a particular times it produces adequate digestive enzymes to assist in efficient food breakdown at these times.

3. Drink Water

Increasing your fibre intake will also mean increasing your water consumption. Water is a great way to detoxify your system. Fibre absorbs water to give more bulk and this is important to improve the action and flow of your bowels, getting things moving. Instead of getting things stuck as Fibre without water can = cement.

Preventing sluggishness in the gut where waste matter may be hanging around in your gut for too long, creating this uncomfortable feeling inside. Dry, hard stools over a prolonged period of time can be one of the causes of many bowel problems. Its important that the bowels keep clear and flowing.

A 'moist' stool is far easier and more comfortable to pass, meaning there is less straining and far less likelihood of haemorrhoids.

Water is an essential part of your diet. we are made up of 60 per cent water in a mans body and 50 per cent in a woman body. Every cell in your body needs water to function properly. Humans are able to survive without food for several weeks, but without water for only a few days. So it's essential to life. The body has no means of storing water, so the body needs a constant supply of fresh water everyday to replenish the fluids that you loose through sweating and urination. We should all be drinking at least 8-b10 glasses of water ( 2 litres - 4 pints) each day and increasing this amount if it is a hot day or if you are exercising or playing sport. Don't wait until you are thirsty, as thirst is an indication that you are lacking the water that you need. Leading to dehydration causing fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, dry mouth and find it difficult to concentrate.

People who drink plenty of water gain many health benefits such as they are less likely to suffer with constipation, it gives them energy, reduces fatigue, is a brain booster, improves skin appearance, assists in weight control and they are at a lesser risk of developing colon diseases and urinary tract infections.

So drinking plenty of fresh water, not fizzy or sparkling water or flavoured water, but fresh distilled water from a glass, avoiding the plastic bottles and containers. We depend on water, it helps to transport toxins and waste out of our bodies. We need to be drinking at least eight to ten glasses of the best quality water available every day in order to maintain health and a healthy body and mind.

Avoid dehydrating drinks such as tea, coffee, fizzy and sugary drinks and alcohol.

Herbal teas and pure fruit juices should be limited, but if you must take these in addition to, rather than instead of the eight to ten glasses of fresh water every day.

3. Eat Small Portion Sizes of Food

Eating smaller meals can help your digestive system as well as helping to increase metabolism and can help to aid weight loss. I and many other health professionals recommend using the size of your palms together as an idea of the size of your meals.

One palm size of your hand is roughly the size of your stomach. This is enough for your body to be able to consume and manage, allowing your digestive system to be able to process it well, without over taxing it and over draining the body with a large meal, as it is more challenging to digest and takes much longer to break down.

Its also a good idea to use small plates and bowels to be able to make you feel that you have a full plate, rather than a large plate thats half empty. This will help you to resist temptation in filling up on more food, that your body doesn't actually need more of. Its best to be 70% full and the other 30% empty, this is especially true for your evening meal. Drinking alcohol can also increase your likelihood of eating more, as alcohol stimulates your appetite and will encourage you to eat more. Alcholic drinks are also high in calories and artificial sugars, these all affect your digestive system and cause problems with your gut health and gut microbes. So best to avoid, especially when eating, if you want a healthy gut and healthy body.

4. Chew Your Food

How you eat is just as important as to what you eat. Our digestive systems are amazing things. They process the food that we eat and expel the waste at the other end. But sometimes, factors such as stress, ill health, getting older or todays processed diets may mean an optimum digestive system isn't something that everyone get to enjoy everyday.

Chewing is the first part of the digestive process and I have found that many people do not do enough chewing of there food. Good lubrication such as your saliva is needed to combine digestive enzymes with food and to help absorption of nutrients and the break down of carbohydrates as well as being able to swallow the food down.

It's really important to liquidise your food as much as possible within your mouth before you swallow.

Its important to chew your food slowly and thoroughly (at least 30 times if you can). This will help to reduce the stress on the digestive system and encourages the secretion of all the important digestive enzymes within your mouth.

Eating too quickly can cause excess gas, so keep your mouth closed whilst chewing. Any bloatedness in the abdomen can be a sign of trapped gas.

Its also important to not eat too late at night. Ideally its best to have eaten before 7pm, earlier is better, any later than this can effect the way that your body digests your food. So earlier is better for your gut. Plus it prevents the common causes of constipation and indigestion. As well as the feeling of bloatedness, feeling lethargic and heavy the next day.

Its also worth noting that when you do get the chance to travel, adjust your diet slowly to the changes in water, food, climate as these can upset your digestion

Its also important to rest after your meal, so that your digestive system can do what it needs to do. Ideally resting for 20-30mins or longer if you can. Will allow your body the time it needs to process what you have eaten.

It is also worth noting about when to drink round a meal. The ideal scenario is probably to be well hydrated before a meal. Ideally drinking 30 mins before eating is best. So you should not be thirsty during your meal. Drinking too much during a meal can dilute the digestive enzymes and impair good digestion.

Drinking coffee or tea immediately after a meal is also not the best advice for the same reason. Give yourself a break of about 30 minutes after a meal before taking any kind of drink, would be the best options. This also includes dessert, allow your body to rest after eating for at least 15-20mins after your meal, to see if you feel you would like a dessert.

It's also advised in Ayurveda especially, to avoid eating a meal while watching television or any screens for that matter, this includes any type of reading and instead really focusing on what you are doing - eating. Always sit down to eat and away from any emotional distractions as much as possible. Eat in a calm and unhurried atmosphere is important, for a good digestion. Avoid talking while eating and laughing as this causes vibrations in the stomach which impedes digestion. Maintain silence if you can while eating your meals, otherwise keep the conversation light and positive.

Also avoid eating heavy foods as they are harder to digest and overeating as its like putting wet wood or too much wood on the fire - it will be extinguished. If your digestion is strong, you will feel light, nourished, and clear after a meal, and will have no fatigue, heaviness, fullness, or indigestion.

Its also important to eat slowly and savor your food. Eat at a moderate pace - not too quick or too slow. Focus your attention on the food your eating, its colour, shapes, smell, texture and taste. Eat warm and cooked foods - preferably fresh homemade soups. Eat when you are hungry and eat at regular times, leaving at least four to five hours (ideally) between meals. Eating before your previous meal has been digested causes digestive upsets such as bloating, gas and heartburn build up.

Avoid eating if you are stressed or emotionally upset or are in a rush, or immediately after exercise. Your body will not be able to process what you are eating and will sit in your gut, undigested, leading to all sorts of problems as mentioned in this blog.

To not eat or drink anything that is too hot or too cold and to avoid using ice in your drinks. Keep your food simple.

Ayurveda sees food as a form of medicine. While they are slower to take effect than other medicines, there results are often long lasting and profound. Remember to eat to live, don't live to eat. And remember to enjoy the food that you eat, its important to be happy, to stay positive, focused and unhurried when cooking and eating, this will also have positive effect on your digestive health.

"If you strive for bliss, your food should be such that new disease cannot manifest and existing disease is alleviated"

-Charak, the great Ayurvedic physician

5. Exercise

Our bodies are designed to move. Exercising regularly brings a whole heap of health benefits both short and long term to every aspect of our health. Improved cardiovascular exercise reduces blood pressure, increases muscle strength and endurance, increases bone density, increases lung capacity, improves metabolism, increases energy, improves brain function, mood and reduces levels of anxiety and depression as well as improving your digestive health and allowing your digestive system to function fully and consistently.

Regular exercise, preferably in the fresh air daily is key to a healthy bowel and gut health.

It does not have to be in large amounts and it doesn't have to be intense, it can be 10-15 minutes of walking, two to three times a day outside, as long as its done consistently every day.

Its important to do many different types of exercise and find the type that you enjoy doing, such as walking, hiking, cycling, jogging, skipping, dancing, swimming, aerobic exercise or taking part in some sports such as football, tennis, hockey, netball, squash, rowing etc...

Regular exercise stirs up the lymphatic system and opens up the lungs, helping to get everything moving in the body. This really helps your gut to stay health and able to cleanse and clear itself daily more effectively. So regular exercise is key.

Some tips to get you moving each day:

  • Cycle or walk to work/shops in good weather. If you take the bus why not get off a stop or two earlier and briskly walk the last section of your journey

  • Set a regular reminder throughout your working day, such as every 30 minutes, to stand up from your seated position and to move your body with a few dynamic stretches to engage your muscles and increase blood flow.

  • Take a walk with colleagues on your lunch break, aim for about 30 minutes or more, if you can, walking and talking is a great way to increase your heart rate!

  • Standing desks have become popular in the work place recently. You don't have to stand all day, alternating between standing and sitting increases muscle activity in your legs and body.

  • When watching TV perform small exercises during the ad breaks, such as 10 squares on the first break, 10 sit ups on the second and 10 jumping jacks on the third.

  • When talking on the phone or brushing your teeth, pace the room or walk up and down the stairs.

Moving more combined with regular exercise could greatly contribute to your overall health and wellbeing and the health of your gut.

6. Improve Digestive Care

Healthy digestion wouldn't be possible without daily digestive support. Digestive enzymes give your gut the strength, to start the digestive process every time you eat. Digestive enzymes help to break down all food for better nutrient absorption which helps to rebalance your gut , naturally 'active' charcoal filtration cleans and flushes harmful contaminants from the gut to improve on your nutrient uptake. Taking a digestive enzyme and absorbent charcoal is essential for initial gut support. They can also calm the stomach and settle chronic digestive issues and distress.

Many don't realise that a healthy digestive system and healthy bowels are closely connected. When food is broken down more efficiently it makes it easier to digest and your body absorbs the vital nutrients more efficiently in the small intestines. Then the waste matter is able to pass through more easily by the bowels.

Probiotics are your friendly and good bacteria. Having lots of friendly bacteria in your guts reduces the chance of any bad bacteria taking over and reduces the risk of bowel problems. More friendly bacteria means a bowel that is more resistant to infection.

But commercial, processed yogart that you get in the supermarket can contain minimal probiotics and is loaded with sugar. Which will do your body more harm than good with the added sugar that's in these yogurts. The best form of probiotic comes in the form of a soil-based probiotic capsule supplement. A soil-based probiotic is unique as it provides the same type of microflora naturally found inside a healthy human G.I. tract. This goes directly to the gut to repair, restore, and rebuild new communities of friendly bacteria, which your gut needs to stay healthy.

7. Lower Your Stress Levels

If you want to have a healthy gut and a healthy body, its really important to lower your stress levels. Stress can affect digestion, and what the nutrients the intestines absorb.

The intestines have a tight barrier to protect the body from (most) food related bacteria. Stress can make the intestinal barrier weaker, allowing gut bacteria to enter the body.

Studies show that a major stressful event long-since passed could still be affecting your gut even now. Many studies also show that stressful life events and situations are associated with the onset of symptoms, or worsening of symptoms, in several digestive conditions, such as:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD)

  • Peptic ulcer diseases

  • and many more...

Stress increases gut motility and fluid secretion. This is why you might get a bout of diarrhoea or repeated urges to urinate during or following a stressful event.

Stress can also delay emptying the stomach contents and also speed up the passage of food through the intestines. This combination of activity leads to abdominal pain and altered bowel habits.

When you are faced with a serious or threatening event, your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. This is a part of the nervous system that is responsible for breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat and digestion.

When faced with stress 'fight or flight' instinct kicks in and your sympathetic nervous system creates a burst of stress hormones such as cortisol. This hormone is designed to make our body alert and ready to take on the treat. This creates your blood pressure rising, your blood cholesterol increases, and your muscles start to tense up, including the muscles in your intestines, bowel and rectum. This wrecks havoc on your digestive system, such as:

  • An increase in stomach acids, causing heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Cramping and stomach pain

  • Lower back pain

  • Excess gas and flatulence

  • Inflammation in the gut

  • Thrush

Which can lead to causing or exacerbating intestinal conditions such as IBS and IBD as well as many of the others that are mentioned above.

Chronic stress that is experienced over a prolonged period of time, can result in a long-term drain on the body. Which can cause a wear-and-tear on the body and the negative effect it has on the digestive system and your gut health.

This not only affects your gut health, but also your mental health and wellbeing. That is why its really important to find healthy ways that you can mange your stress, stress is unfortunately a part of life and even more so in the 21st century that we are in. That is why it is imperative that we have ways to mange and lower our stress to help our bodies to live healthy and well.

To get some further insights and healthy approaches to managing stress, check out some of my previous blog posts on stress and anxiety of signs and symptoms of stress and ways that you can cope and live a healthy life here:

Plus if you feel that you would like more help and assistance in Stress Management, I am a qualified Stress Management Coach/Therapist and I would be happy to help you .

In a Stress Management Session which I provide to many of my clients and people who are wanting help and assistance in improving their life and creating ways that could help them to deal with stress in healthier ways.

The approaches used in a session can have important benefits for physical and mental health, and can form critical building blocks for a healthy lifestle. If you would like additional support, or if you are experiencing extreme or chronic stress? Please message me at to find out more and to book a session to help you to identify the challenges and stressors that are affecting your daily life.

8. Get Plenty of Sleep

Your gut microbiome which is made up of trillions of tiny microbes, which many are bacteria, fungi and protozoa. All live in the intestines, which is home to your nervous system. Your nervous system and your microbiome are in constant communication with the brain. Your microbiome and your quality of sleep are interconnected. Poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can lead to additional health issues.

The intertinal microbiome produces and releases many of the same sleep-influencing neurotransmitters, such as - dopamine, seratonin, melatonin, and GABA, that are also produced by the brain. When we are not getting enough sleep or it is disrupted, by many frequent awakenings throughout the night, our microbiome suffer.

Our microbiome can also be disrupted by poor diet, stress, illness and an overuse of meditations including antibiotics, a poor sleep environment and not enough sleep.

An unhealthy gut, can lead to an unhealthy microbiome and the diversity of the important bacterial world that lives in our gut, which creates poor sleep and cognitive decline and has a truly widespread effect on mental and physical health, influencing mood, metabolism, cardiovascular and circulatory health and our risk of chronic diseases. The changes in this imbalance can happen instantly.

So it's really important that if we want a healthy body, we really need a healthy gut and we need to be getting plenty of deep and restful REM sleep and following a healthy diet and lifestyle.

If you want a healthy gut and a healthy body, you will need to get more sleep, its that simple! Plenty of quality sleep, ideally 8-10 hours of sleep each night. This might sound like a pipe dream! But heres how to do it. Simply cut all electrical devices, (phones, t.v, computer) at ideally around 8pm or 9pm at the latest. Relax with a good book or some relaxing music or whatever chills you out. And if you realy want to sleep well, go to bed at 9.30pm or 10pm at the latest. You'll be amazed at how peaceful and long you can sleep for. Hello 8-9 hours of sleep or more...

Here are some sleep tips from some of my previous blog posts on getting a better night sleep and ways it can help:

9. Avoid Chemical Products around the Home and on Your Skin:

Just like chemicals and pesticides in food can disrupt the gut microbiota, so too can disinfectant man -made toxic cleaning products, chemical products in skincare, haircare and other products used within the home. As I metioned before, we are what we eat. We are also what we breathe. We are also what we expose ourselves to and we are what we put on our skin.

Today, cheap, mass-produced and poorly tested chemicals are used to make many of the products that you find in the supermarket and that we buy everyday. The price that you pay at the till may seem reasonable, but there is a hidden cost- in terms of human health and the health of the planet - that may be higher than any of us can imagine. The reality is that there is about 70,000 chemicals currently in use today, and there are no basic safety data for 43 percent of all of these chemicals used today.

Researchers found that those who lived in homes where people used disinfectant cleaning products at least weekly were twice as likely to effect and disrupt the growth rates of your microbbiome, which changes the nutrients in your gut. As we know 'unhealthy' microbiomes have been linked to:

  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Depression and other mental health disorders

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Asthma

This is also true for skincare, body care and hair care products.

Anything that we apply to our skin, which is the largest organ of the body, and absorbs 60% of whatever you put on it, this includes your hair and scalp, mouth, nose (such as fragrances and chemical smells) and any other areas of your body.

The 60% that is absorbed by the skin always enters your blood stream and scientists estimate that it takes as little as 26 seconds for some of the substances to travels to all of your organs within your body, thats every major organ of the body. This is also true of fragrances, pollution, cigarette smoke, air fresheners as well as essential oils, it takes as little as 10 minutes for an aroma compound to enter your blood stream and all your organs.

This is why nicotine or birth control patches are so effective. As it goes straight into the bloodstream. This is why it is so important to use only natural aromas and natural, organic essential oils, not synthetic and factory made, chemical alternatives that are out there, to fragrance our homes, or our bodies, such as perfumes. Everything that you inhale, enters your circulatory system and all of your organs, including your gut and your brain.

Anything sympthetic the body will have a hard time getting rid of. And if you are using a lot of different chemical based products on your skin, in your home, on your pets, in your car, will all add to this chemical cocktail thats going on inside your body.

That is why its very important to be using natural and organic ingredients that are in the products you, and your family are using. Its also really important to check the ingredients, as a lot of companies, these days, uses the natural word, far too often, when really they could have only one natural ingredient in the list of ingredients, to be allowed to call it natural, and this could be tiny in comparison to all the other ingredients that are listed. And this one natural product, that is usually at the bottom of the list on the label, is insignificant, as the other chemical products far outnumber the one natural component.

That is why you should always check your labels, if there are too many ingredients and words on the label that you don't understand, I would avoid and continue your search. There is much more healthier products out there now, that are really transparent about what is within their products and their ethos. Its just doing a little looking around and some investigating, that will help you to find healthy, ethical, organic and skin loving ingredients and products that are safe, for you and your family, as well as your gut and longterm health.

If you would like to find out more, such as which ingredients you should avoid, as well as some of the products in skincare that I really recommend. Then check out a segment on

Step 4 - Keep it safe
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"Keep It Safe", which is from my 2014 book I wrote "10 Years Younger" wellness program.

Your Body Is Your Temple

Mother nature has a way to solve our problems, or to tell us in advance that a problem could be on its way. Our health does not simply fail in a day. It deteriorates over time and if we are well informed and aware of our body, we can tell from the early signs that we are not going to be healthy in the longterm. To understand that your whole body is a Temple and to look after it from time to time the way you do to your car, mobile, computers and pets.

So how do we actually know if we are healthy enough? How to look for the telltale signs to know if we are NOT healthy?

(Note: These telltale signs are only symptoms and you should consult your doctor if it is an indication of specific health issues)

1. Can You Wake Up Without an Alarm Clock?

If you can wake up about the same time every day, without the assistance of an alarm clock, then you are well rested.

We all need a good night sleep and to be well rested. A well-rested body means your internal systems are working effectively, being more productive and that you have an energised body. This is important to good health. Lack of sleep or a good rest is not only physically and mentally tiring during the day, but could be a sign of heart disease or an overweight problem.

(Some people try to make up for the late nights by sleeping longer on weekends. This is a wrong strategy for sleep deprivation).

2. Colour of your Urine

Keeping your body hydrated and drinking pure distilled water is part of being healthy and we all know that almost over 70% of our body consists of water. You should be drinking at least eight to ten glasses of water a day. You need to drink more if you are working in the sun and sweating, or have been playing sports or doing a workout.

To know if you are hydrated, check your urine colour.

The normal urine colour of a well-hydrated person will be a pale yellow or straw yellow. Any other colors could be due to health issues, medications, drugs or supplements that you are taking. Hence, stop taking these medications, drugs or supplements for a few days to recheck your urine color.

Foamy urine could be due to eating too much protein, more than what your body can absorb. If you have this on a regular basis, you should see a doctor, as it can be an indication of gallbladder or kidney problems.

Cloudy urine or milky urine could be due to some foods that you have eaten and haven't been digested fully. If this problem persists, it could be urinary tract infection (normally with a burning urination), kidney or gallbladder problem.

Blood in the urine is serious enough for you to see your doctor immediately.

3. Your Bowel Movements

The quality as well as the quantity of what comes out of your digestive system is another telltale sig of the state of health. It is essential to feed your body enough fibre and fluids and food rich in digestive enzymes for proper gut function.

You are healthy if:

• Your bowel movement is about the same time every day

• Your stool is large, soft and easy to pass. It will also sink.

If you eat three meals a day, view one to three bowel movements a day as normal and healthy.

Consult with your doctor if you have the following:

• Irregular bowel movement or not going for a few days (could be lack of fibre, constipation, medication, lack of water, not having breakfast, etc.)

• It floats and stinks! (Could be from the unabsorbed fat in your diet)

• Stool colours are either bright red (could be from your food or haemorrhoids), too dark (could be from your iron pill supplement or internal bleeding) or pale or grey colour (could be due to digestive track and bowel problems - recommend seeing your doctor)

• Stool textures are hard & dry (could be from your medications, lack of water and fibre), look like small lumps (could be due to lack of fibre & water, high protein low carbohydrate diet) too liquid (could be from viral or bacterial infection or a sudden increase in fibre) and slim and slender shape, like a pencil (would recommend seeing your doctor about your colon health).

I know you don’t want to read about the various shape and sizes of your POOOOO…….. but it is truth and we have to take any symptoms seriously. Never compromise with your health.

4. Color & Texture of your Nails

Signs of good health are when your nails have a smooth surface, pink in colour and firm when touched.

If your nail shows the following tell tale signs, then please check with your doctor

• Dry and brittle that can split easily: could be thyroid problems

• White nails: could be a liver problem

. White spots: sign of calcium or zinc deficiency

• Yellowish, thick and slow growing: could be a lung issue

• Yellowish with slight blush at the base: could be a sign of a delicate liver or diabetes

• Half white & half pink: could be kidney problems

• Pale with a whitish nail bed: is a sign that you may be anemic with low in the red blood cell count

• Thin, concave and with raised ridges: is a sign of a lack of iron or a long standing illness

• Rippling surface: a sign of arthritis

5. What Your Eyes Say of Your Health

Eyes and the eye area can tell a lot about your health (the science is known as Iridology where you can tell any deficiency through the iris) Below are some tell tale signs that might mean health issues:

Eyes are one of the most underrated organ in the body and yet the most important, imagine being not been able to see….

• If you see lumpy yellowish patches on your eyelid, it could be an indication of high cholesterol

• Part of your eye that is white is slowly turning yellowish: is symptom of jaundice

• Brown spot on the eyelid could be a form of potential skin cancer

• Eyes that appear to bulge could be an indication of an overactive thyroid.

. White rings around the iris could indicate calcium depletion, excess salt or sugar or deterioration of joints

. Brownish-black spots in the iris indicates unabsorbed iron in the intestines.

6. How Good Is Your Skin?

We tend to spend time and money taking care of our face. We put on moisturizer and sunblock, but failed to observe the skin color, for signs of any health issues.

Skin being the largest organ of the body does need attention and proper care like others. So make sure not only to apply topically but also eating healthy antioxidant and Omega 3 rich diet is very essential. Check the following if you have any of these:

• Yellowish skin : could be a sign of an under active thyroid

• Velvety patch near the neck or armpit could be an indication of diabetes.

• If your hand or feet have a brown discolouration, could be an early sign of kidney problems.

In all of my treatments, such as massage and facials, I regularly assess my clients skin before and during their treatments and if I ever notice any skin concerns, I always recommend that they visit their doctor, and the same applies if you notice anything different about your skin, and anywhere else for that matter and to check it with your doctor.

7. Check Your Tongue Colour & Texture

Your tongue is also another indication of your health. It is advisable to clean your tongue with a tongue cleaner upon rising and to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. So stick out your tongue now and check for the followings:

• A thin white coating on your tongue is normal and healthy. However, a heavy coating could be a fungal infection or a large dosage of antibiotics or using too much of your favourite mouthwash

• Pale colour could be due to lack of Haemoglobin

• Bright red could be a lack of iron and vitamin B

• Purple could either be high cholesterol or chronic bronchitis

• If the texture shows raised red spots, it could be from drinking hot beverages, or lack of vitamin C

• If you have dry tongue, it could be due to stress.

Elixir to be Healthy

If you follow the above tips, it is a step closer to keeping yourself fit and healthy. Staying healthy, is about taking care of your body, eating all the healthy foods, and staying active! Also following healthy practices like Yoga and Meditation and eating foods that are healthy and in season, doing regular detoxes and fasting as well as sleeping well.

Some Treatments That I would Recommend for Good Gut and Digestive Health:


50 mins - £50.00

This ancient treatment has been used by many cultures and has helped to cleanse, purify and heal. Using a hollow herbal candle which is lighted and placed over the belly-button and then follows a relaxing tummy massage to ease and releases any areas that are experiencing discomfort or pain, especially in the lower back. As with ear candling, the burning candle creates a vacuum and the gentle heat created assists with the dispelling of toxins. Science reveals that a fully functioning of the Belly or Navel (tummy) plays a great role in Success & Happiness. The Belly has a mind of its own, the “enteric nervous system". Just like the larger brain in the head, researchers say, this system sends and receives impulses, records experiences and respond to emotions. It's nerve cells are bathed and influenced by the same neurotransmitters. The Belly can upset the brain just as the brain can upset the Belly. The Navel (hara) is believed to be where our decisions are made, and where our core feelings, our loyalties, and our deep inner emotions are stored. In other words, it is the place of one’s true self. According to Ancient Eastern Philosophy the Navel or Hara is the seat of Life, the center of inherent energy. It is also referred to as a state of mind in the development of one’s character. One who activates the Navel is not likely to lose his balance, equanimity or serenity.

Benefits of Navel Candling Includes:

  • aiding the removal of toxins through the body’s lymphatic system

  • alleviation of stomach flatulence,

  • stomach ache,

  • endocrine disorders

  • gastric problems caused by irregular eating habits.

  • In addition, navel candling can also aid in the relief of mild cold symptoms and enhance the body circulatory system. </