Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
Humans need to drink at least 2 litres of water every day to keep you fully hydrated and healthy. One of the most common problems which affect not only our gut but our energy levels is chronic dehydration. It is incredibly common due to the busy, hard working lifestyle many people have adopted. These sorts of people ignore thirst and replace water with diuretic drinks such as coffee and tea. Statistics from the Natural Mineral Water Information Service shows that 90% of people in the UK do not drink enough water to stay healthy and well hydrated. Chronic dehydration can affect people from any age and can cause:
- Dark, Strong-smelling urine
- Infrequent urination
All of these symptoms indicate the lack of water intake in your body. You should ask yourself a few questions to find out if you are dehydrated;
- Does your mouth feel dry? This is a sign on dehydration.
- What colour is your urine? If it is dark you are dehydrated.
- Do you get frequent headaches? This is a sign of dehydration.
- If you pinch the skin on the back of your hand, does it bounce back quickly? If not, you are like a floppy plant that is not well watered.
- Are you moody? Dehydration can cause mood swings.
If you feel as if you are dehydrated, through the questions or not, you should:
- Make sure to drink about 8 glasses (2 litres) of water every day.
- Try to make sure you have a water bottle or glass of water with you at school, at work, in your car, at home etc.
- Finally, make sure to drink more water during the day rather than in the evening as you don’t want to be woken up at night with a full bladder!
Friday, July 6th, 2012
With the weather so unsettled, it’s very easy to get ill so take extra care of yourselves.
With the weather so unsettled, it’s very easy to get ill so take extra care of yourselves. About 70% of your immunesystem lies within the gut so below are just a few tips to keep your gut healthy, helping to boost your immune system, which may reduce the chances of you catching a cold or the flu;
- Probiotics and Prebiotics – Taking a daily probiotic will increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut. This will reduce the chances of the “bad” bacteria from affecting the host. Also, why not have foods containing prebiotics in your diet? Prebiotics are foods that will stimulate the growth of your own beneficial bacteria in the gut; foods include bananas, onions and leeks.
- Eat plenty of fruits and veg – Fruit and vegetables contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. They’re an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestive problems. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including foliate, vitamin C and potassium.
- Porridge – Eating a warm bowlful of porridge isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps to boost your intake of starchy foods and fiber, which give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise – Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic, especially during these miserable days, your body’s defences will also benefit. You may be tempted to eat more during these cold and wet times. Exercising will help you manage your weight better and keep your body in shape.
So are you looking after your gut?
Monday, May 21st, 2012
Good bugs in the system!
There are more bacteria in your colon than there are humans in this planet! And just as on this planet, there’s competition for space to live. Just as local conditions affect peoples’ choice of where to live, the local conditions in the large intestine determine the types of bacteria that will grow. Like people, bacteria directly affect their environment, while some bacteria have minimal effect, “harmful” bacteria may damage their environment and increase the risk of gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, where as “good” bacteria help to keep the environment healthy and often improve digestion and produce certain vitamins. The key is to get a balance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the intestines.
The “good” bacteria can be consumed in foods called “probiotics” – the friendly bacteria; these are generally in the form of fermented milk drinks and yoghurts. A good quality probiotic is proven to survive the hostile stomach acids, so they reach the gut in sufficient numbers and able to set up home for a while in your gut flora. Probiotics taken on a daily basis can help to “top-up” levels of the beneficial bacteria in the intestines. They are not a quick fix and need to be seen as a long term investment, as the effects may not be very obvious or immediate.
So have you had your probiotic today?
Monday, January 23rd, 2012
Staying healthy and maintain a healthy gut is not just about what we eat but also about how physically active we are too. With an ever increasing technological society we have become less and less active as time has moved forward. Things like lifts and escalators mean we don’t need to use the stairs or drive through car washes instead of manual carwashes all factor into us being less active. Even things such as electric tin openers reduce the amount of energy we expend on a daily basis. This all contributes to not only our overall health but also our gut health.
You may be unaware but not only does exercise keep you nice a toned but it also helps us internally. For example if we consume more energy than we are expending, it is stored as fat. Fat can build up as cholesterol along the arteries which will cause the blood flow to be reduced and potentially cause a heart attack if the artery becomes fully blocked. Exercise also helps to maintain the muscles within our internal organs for example in our intestines muscles are required for peristalsis (the movements of food down the digestive tract).
Exercise helps our digestive system as it help reduce transit time (i.e. the length of time it takes food to move through the large intestine). The reason a faster transit time is better for us is less water is absorbed from the stool into your body and therefore your waste food won’t become dry and hard to pass which essentially is what causes constipation. Exercise along with a healthy fibrous diet may help with constipation as it will help to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles therefore ensuring the stool moves more efficiently through your digestive tract. Therefore lack of exercise may make our digestive system feel sluggish.
The government’s recommendations are to exercise for thirty minutes five times a week. Whilst these seem quite a while to spend exercising within your daily routine this thirty minutes doesn’t actually have to be for example going to the gym or participating in sport. It could be as little as walking to work instead of catching the bus, going up the stairs instead of the lift or going for a walk over lunch.
If you plan on going to the gym or doing a class it is good to plan when you are going to eat after a big meal, give your body a chance to digest it before you start jumping around! Therefore it is advised to wait around an hour after a big meal before engaging in any rigorous physical activity. This is also be after eating, blood flow increases to the stomach and intestines to help the body digest the food. However, if you exercise right after eating, the blood flows toward the heart and muscles instead. Since the strength of the gut’s muscle contractions directly relate to the quantity of blood flowing in the area, less blood in the GI tract means weaker intestinal contractions, fewer digestive enzymes, and the food waste moving sluggishly through the intestine. This can lead to bloating, excess gas, and constipation.
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
It’s that time of the year! Planning a ski trip or have one booked already? Whatever your plans are, a ski trip is always an excitement!! It is always a good idea to take a few precautions to help you minimise the chances of digestive health problems when you arrive at your destination so that you can enjoy your much deserved holiday!
A few tips to consider before and during your travels:
- Look after your gut – Before traveling try to improve the health of your gut through diet. Consider including prebiotic foods in your diet such as asparagus, onions, and artichokes, eating a well-balanced diet and taking a regular probiotic product.
- Be prepared – pack some high-fibre cereal or dried fruits in your suitcase so you can have it for breakfast or as a snack. It is often a challenge to eat enough fibre whilst being on holiday, which can soon effect on your digestion.
- Stay hydrated – Dehydration is a major cause of gut problems when you’re on holiday so drink plenty of water and juices throughout your holiday, especially if you’re in the sun or on the plan as the dry cabin air can dehydrate you.
- Stay active – long periods of inactivity can make the digestive system sluggish so if you’re travelling on the plane do your leg exercises as suggested in your flight handbook or walk up and down the aisle every so often. When you’re relaxing by the pool or lying on the sun loungers, get up and move around every hour.
- Finally visit your GP prior to travelling to see if there are any vaccinations you may need to have before travelling to your chosen destination.