A week ago I attended an absolutely brilliant health event at Manchester Technology centre hosted by The Mac Twins from The Gut Stuff and featuring Lifestyle GP, Dr Rangan Chatterjee. I am already a huge fan of Dr Chatterjee’s work and often refer back to his 4 Pillar Plan book for general guidance when I am feeling stressed or struggling with sleep.
The topic of the evening was on the importance of gut health, so it was quite fitting that welcome drinks and canapés consisted of gut friendly kombucha from Wild Fizz and a range of fermented toppings alongside avocado, sweet potato and jackfruit.
Now when it comes to gut health I like to think that I’m very knowledgeable on probiotic supplements and general guidance, however the information which Dr Chatterjee shared with us during his 2 hour talk was mind blowing, to the point that I started taking notes so that I could share the facts with you all. Sadly most GP’s aren’t trained in lifestyle medicine and as we (rightly) trust our GP’s, we never question them when they prescribe antibiotics for infections, beta-blockers for anxiety or anti-depressants to stop us from feeling low. As great as my GP is there has never been a point where he has discussed the effects that prescribed medicine will have on my gut health, or even suggested using a probiotic alongside antibiotics. Luckily through my past work experience I know about probiotics but someone who has had no nutrition training or who isn’t interested in health might not have this knowledge. So I’m going to share some of what was discussed, and if you need any more information then feel free to email me and I’ll help as much as I can.
Chronic inflammation in the body can be managed by improving gut health. Improve gut health and it will dampen down inflammation in the body. Research has shown that in some patients with chronic illness there has often been a previous bout of stress or recurrent courses of antibiotics. Dr Chatterjee’s advice was that if you are prescribed antibiotics to have a chat with your GP and ask “Do I absolutely need to take antibiotics or can I watch and wait for 2 weeks?” As someone who lives with a chronic illness (endometriosis) I am going to start looking at how I can reduce inflammation in my body.
Dr Chatterjee is currently holding a Prescribe Lifestyle Medicine day course for GP’s, nurses and pharmacists, so it won’t be long before our GP’s will be using these methods. Fingers crossed!
- Stress has the biggest impact on gut health. This is why physical symptoms of anxiety and stress often include tummy upset, cramps and nausea.
- There are multiple communications between the gut and the brain. This is why you often hear the phrase, “Trust your gut.” This is also why the gut is referred to as the second brain.
- If you can improve gut health you can send positive messages to your brain, which in turn can improve your mood and increase your serotonin levels.
- We need to look at food as information. If you send your gut bugs good information (so gut healthy foods), they’ll send the right information to the brain.
- If you feed your gut bugs food which they don’t like they will send stress signals to your brain.
- So in layman terms what goes in your gut affects your brain.
- As our gut bugs don’t like processed foods, we need to look at increasing colourful veg (Dr Chatterjee has a rainbow chart on his website which will help).
- Encourage mindful eating by not eating on the go.
- Mediterranean diet is recommended, it is a great source of Omega 3s, which are good for brain health.
- Eat lots of fibre and prebiotic foods such as leeks, onions and garlic.
- Eat probiotics such as live yoghurt, kefir and kombucha.
- The above foods can flare up IBS so if you do suffer from IBS it is recommended to talk to a Nutritionist or Dietitian about following a short-term Low fod-map diet with their support. It is not advised to follow this diet without medical supervision.
- A diverse diet will change the composition of the gut microbiome. There is evidence that in turn this can improve bone density.
- Eat within a 12-hour window so that your gut has a break from food. Constantly snacking means that you are always giving your gut something to digest.
- Take a Vitamin D supplement
- In terms of probiotic supplements, there is no harm in taking them but don’t look at them as a magic supplement by using them in isolation. Take them alongside the above nutrition tips.
The recommended probiotic to take is Symprove . We were given a bottle in our goody bag. I have been taking it for a week and can already feel a small difference to how my gut is acting. I will do a full review another time. Bimuno is another highly regarded brand to try.
What the event taught me was that I simply need to be more mindful when it comes to food, to be diligent with my diet and make an effort to not rush meals. I was also so motivated that I went straight to WH Smith the following morning to buy Dr Chatterjee’s latest book, The Stress Solution.