Did you know that an astonishing 86% of all British adults have suffered from some form of gastrointestinal problem in the last year? Raise your hand if that’s you! In my line of work, I’ve seen 1000s of patients suffer from all manner of digestive complaints – pain, bloating, gas, blocked bowels – you name it. It is so widespread! But why?
Well, there are multiple factors that can affect your digestive tract. In this article, I cover the main ones in detail…
Dysbiosis basically means ‘disharmony’ in the gut. It is usually defined as a reduction in microbial diversity, aka a loss of beneficial bacteria.
Our digestive tract contains nearly 40 trillion bacteria which is collectively known as the gut microbiome. These are hugely important for our overall health. These friendly bacteria can help to restore the balance of bacteria in our gut following a bout of diarrhoea, a course of antibiotics or an episode of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Several clinical studies have shown that certain probiotic supplements can help reduce gas production and bloating in people with digestive problems. Many people also take probiotics to support their immune systems too. These live bacteria are your first line of immune defence because they literally engulf pathogens. Probiotics are also taken to improve skin health too. Many studies have shown that supplementing with friendly bacteria can reduce eczema and psoriasis.
What to look out for when buying your probiotics:
The most common bacteria cultures are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Most human clinical trials which have shown positive outcomes have used these two cultures in their studies. So, when you are purchasing probiotics, make sure they have these two strains!
One other factor to look out for when buying probiotics is the number of strains available. If you have a higher number of strains, then you are closer to replicating the vast number of strains found naturally inside the body.
If you suffer from digestive complaints, I highly recommend taking a probiotic daily. They are particularly beneficial if your digestive tract is compromised! I really like FARMASSIS+ Billionaires Biotic – a complex blend of live bacteria which contains 15 strains of live cultures.
It's estimated that around 1 in every 7 adults in the UK has constipation at any one time. If we have blocked bowels, not only are we going to feel heavy and sluggish, but we will feel bloated as a result!
The best way to relieve constipation is to increase fibre in the diet. Fibre is literally food for the gut. It fuels gut microbes to carry out their daily functions and acts as an intestinal broom literally sweeping things down and out of our bodies!
The government recommends that we ingest 25 grams of fibre per day. Luckily, consuming more fibre-rich foods is easy. You can do this by increasing your fruit and vegetables. It’s also a good idea to increase insoluble fibre too. This is the roughage type of fibre such as potatoes, rice, beans and nuts.
If you are really constipated, then you may want to try a Mullein Leaf supplement. Mullein is an anti-bacterial leaf that has long been used to help people with constipation. It does this by replacing the “bad” mucus with a healing mucilage that coats and soothes the gut wall and provides lubrication that enables an easier and smoother bowel movement.
The Balance Mullein Leaf Extract helps to relieve constipation by encouraging bowel movements. It also calms irritations and inflammations of the digestive system. So, it’s soothing at the same time.
You eat a healthy diet, but you STILL get bloated. Why? Well, certain foods are difficult to break down and can irritate the gut lining. Major players in this category are wheat and dairy. 1 in 3 people have a food intolerance to wheat or dairy, so if you suspect these two culprits don’t agree with you, then they probably don’t.
Wheat contains a protein called gluten which is the component that people tend to have problems with. This is because gluten is like a glue – sticky by nature. It is found in foods such as bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, doughnuts etc.
Another protein found in wheat is gliadin. Gliadin contains repeating patterns of amino acids that the human digestive system cannot break down. People with coeliac disease have one or two genetic mutations that somehow, when pieces of gliadin course through the gut, cause the immune system to attack the walls of the intestine in a case of mistaken identity. That, in turn, causes fingerlike structures called villi that absorb nutrients on the inside of the intestines, causing them to become leaky, wreaking havoc. Symptoms of coeliac disease include vomiting, chronic diarrhoea, constipation and malabsorption.
We all know that people with coeliac disease have to remove gluten from their diets as it dramatically damages the gut lining. However, medical experts largely agree that there is a condition related to gluten other than coeliac. In 2011, a panel of coeliac experts convened in Oslo settled on a medical term for this malady: non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. In other words: you don’t have to be a Coeliac to react to gluten!
If you suffer from an array of digestive complaints, I recommend you cut gluten out for two weeks to see if things improve. Make sure you swap gluten foods for naturally gluten-free foods instead such as rice, oats, quinoa, lentils, and chickpeas. In my clinical experience, I have found that nearly everyone who removes gluten from their diet thrives. They lose weight, think better, sleep better, and their digestion and skin also improve.
One final thought on digestive health: if you aren’t breaking down foods properly, then you are most likely to have malabsorption issues. There are certain vitamins and minerals which help to break down and process our foods. Biotin is a good example of this. This B vitamin helps your digestive system produce cholesterol and process proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids.
I’m a fan of the Core Nutrition Biotin Liquid Spray because it is sublingual. When you take your vitamins sublingually (under the tongue), it maximises absorption into the body. Plus it is lime and coconut flavour which is delicious!