My top tips for better gut health

What is gut health?

It is the well-being of your GI tract (gastrointestinal tract), which consist of your small and large intestine and your stomach. It functions well and considered healthy if it is able to break down food properly and absorb all the important nutrients from the food you consume without causing havoc in your body.

What is the microbiome?

It is a colony of microorganisms in your gut. It is home to bacteria, viruses and fungi and other microorganisms.

Why should you look after it?

A healthy and balanced gut contributes to many different aspects of your health.

Digestion: it will help digest the food well and utilise all the important vitamins and minerals that your body can use to function and flourish. Imbalance in the gut can cause indigestion, bloating, IBS, mental health issues and you can become deficient in many vitamins due to poor absorption that will lead to other health issues.

Immune system: many immune cells start their lives in the gut. These are responsible for filtering our the pathogens so you don’t get poorly. Looking after your gut health will ensure your immune system is stable and strong to keep you healthy and fit these viruses.

Mental health: if you have heard of the gut-brain axis, you will know there is a direct link between the gut and your brain. There are a large amount of nerves in the gut with lots of neurotransmitters also coming to play that can influence your mood, your appetite and even your sex drive. Your gut is actually called the “second brain” which I think is pretty fascinating. The vagus nerve connects the two together, which is the biggest nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system. There are things you can do to stimulate this part of your nervous system, that is responsible for rest and digest. I will come to this too later in the article. Children with ADHD and processing disorders can benefit from incorporating gut loving food and techniques as this can help improve their cognitive functions.

How can you look after your gut health? 

There are many things you can do to stay healthy or become healthier. Just bear in mind that changes takes time and it can be overwhelming to suddenly change it all. Taking small steps are more sustainable and will ensure that your new habits are formed and become part of your everyday life and not just here for a season. Your health goals will be unique to you and some things that worked for your friend will not necessarily work for you. Always listen to your body and if unsure, please don’t be hesitant to ask for help.

When I try focus on nourishing my gut, especially when going through a stressful busy period, I like to concentrate on the following:

Stress management: the top priority seem to be on using tools to reduce anxiety. I have written about this in a previous blog post (check out: “I am here, now!” – How to tame the anxious mind? – Twiddle ( ) In my opinion, this comes before looking at your diet or exercise. However, both your diet and exercise form a very important part of stress management, these come hand in hand. Firstly, ask yourself if anxiety and stress is high at the moment and note the symptoms this generates. You might feel your heart is beating faster for longer periods, you might be breathless, loose appetite or have the opposite and eat more, you might struggle to sleep or might struggle to get up in the morning, have no energy and fatigued. It will look different for everyone and it will look different for you at different times of your week or even day.

Prompts to ask yourself:

  • On a scale to 1-10 how stressed/anxious I feel? What is causing this? How can I reduce the load to feel less stressed?
  • What worked in the past?
  • What are the activities I can do today to be kind to myself.

Eat fiber-rich and probiotic foods

Fiber is basically gut food, it feeds the healthy bacteria and makes sure your microbiome is healthy and nourished. Eating lots of colourful vegetables can help achieve this. Leaving the skin on root vegetables and having fruit with skin on will massively increase your fiber intake. Prepare a couple of carrots and hummus for a snack if you tend to struggle in the afternoon and often get peckish. Add some nuts and seeds to your morning yoghurt, toast or porridge or have a few berries with your toast to ensure you have started the day with some nutritious food. Having different types of mushrooms, carrots or onions for example will contain different phytochemicals and fiber that will all be welcomed by your microbiome.

Incorporate fermented foods in your every day diet that can really help feed those good bacteria in your gut. Especially important after taking antibiotics or having for example a sickness bug. Why not try kefir for breakfast (read my blog if you want to know more on how to make these: The health benefits of fermenting – milk and water kefir – Twiddle ( You could have some sauerkraut or kimchi with your lunch and maybe have some sourdough for dinner or try new ingredients like miso, tempeh or tofu to mix it a little bit.

Reduce processed and sugary drinks and foods

I have no doubt you have heard of all the noise about processed foods and also sweeteners in the news. These are all full of additives and artificial ingredients that will provide no nutrients to your gut and can cause upsets especially if these foods are present in your every day diet. One of the major issues it can create is inflammation which is often present or a precursor of many health conditions. I am sure you know this, but too much sugar is not just bad for your teeth but also can supress your immune system and increase a risk of you developing type 2 diabetes. It is basically really bad for your metabolic health if you consume too much of it for a long period of life. You can switch to more natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey, as these will carry health benefits, but always remember that these are also a type of sugar so don’t have too much of these either.

Remember to hydrate

Drink enough water until your wee becomes very pale coloured. No need to measure how much or how many glasses, your body will send you signals. While coffee is healthy to a certain degree (no more than 3) you shouldn’t consume too much caffeinated drinks, which includes tea and coke too. It can affect your sleep and caffeine is diuretic these will draw water out of your body and can affect the mucosal lining of your intestine which will affect your digestion.


Exercise is considered as a probiotic by many health professional. Your gut likes it if you move and it will improve your digestion. Movement also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system I talked about at the beginning and in turn it will help sooth your anxious mind. But remember, exercise is a form of stress to your body so choose your intensity and timing of your workout wisely. Too close to bedtime can affect your sleep and hormones.


It is important to have a good night sleep so you can give your gut a bit of a rest to digest. Make sure you don’t eat or drink close to your bedtime as it will wake your body up and get it do something (i.e. digest) that it wouldn’t normally do that late.

Prompts to ask yourself:

  • Do I wake up refreshed in the morning?
  • Could I go to bed a little bit earlier or at least introduce a wind-down routine? (i.e. light stretches and reading instead of screen time)
  • Did I have caffeine in the afternoon that could have affected my sleep quality?

If you want to go deeper and read more, I highly recommend you check out Dr Megan Rossi’s and Tim Spector’s work. A great article from Tim was published at the Guardian: Go with your gut: scientist Tim Spector on why food is not just fuel | Human biology | The Guardian

Disclaimer: If you have a medical condition, please consult with your GP before taking any supplements or embarking on a special diet.

If you have a condition that you are diagnosed with but unsure how to tailor your lifestyle around this and how to cook, get in touch. I offer a free 30 minute discovery call where we can chat about this and see if we could work together on your health journey.