Health and Wellbeing, Mindfulness, Self Improvement, women

Could gut bacteria be the answer to your mental health and food intolerances?

So disclaimer first:

whilst I have personal experience of mental health, food intolerances and improving my gut bacteria, I am no expert, or specialist. You should ALWAYS seek medical advice before taking supplements, altering your diet significantly or making changes to your health, because you are very important and so is your health.

Phew, so moving on. I am so very excited to share with you something I’ve discovered about my health which I had to work out through research and scouring the internet for hours.; how gut health can completely change your health

What is good gut health?

So in a moment I’ll tell you what gut health is, what can make it imbalanced and send you off to look at some proper experts talking about it. Then I will give you some ideas about how to improve it.  First let me tell you why I felt I had to go looking for the answers to my health.

My story

About a year ago I started having trouble with breathing; I was getting wheezing, tightness in my chest and coughing. Very typical asthma symptoms. Off I went to my doctors.  They also thought it sounded very much like asthma. So I had months of tests, and was given steroid inhalers, but at each test about six weeks apart, it didn’t behave like asthma in the tests.

Then I had rashes on my arms and legs, with really, really itchy skin. Little pin like red rashes appeared on my forearms, and across my legs. The itchiness got worse and worse and kept me up at night. Back again to the doctors. I explained the symptoms. They thought it could be Crohn’s disease. So I had every blood test to check if I had it, and if my liver/kidney functions were OK. Everything came back clear.

The doctor was puzzled. That seemed to be the end of their search. They told me to try restricting my diet and remove wheat and dairy. I’d already started down that road and was living on a restricted diet. They told me to come back if it carried on and they would refer me to an allergy clinic, but this might still not resolve the issues.

So I went away with breathing issues, skin rashes and food intolerances, and still no answers. Add to that acid reflux and belching, and an increase in anxiety which started around the same time and I felt like something must be seriously wrong, but why wasn’t this showing in medical tests? I needed answers so I turned to my old friend Google, to look at what might cause these problems. One suggestion came out again and again. An imbalance in the gut. (which is the long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your bum and carries all your food through it’s mammoth journey around your body).

The turning point

When I started to read about gut health I realised most of the symptoms I was having were likely to be related to an imbalance in the gut. Put simply, this is where the bad bacteria which has grown and grown overpowers all the good bacteria that we need to keep us healthy. My good bacteria was waving a white flag and being walked all over by a load of nasty bugs.

After researching how to get rid of the bad guys and help the good guys win their fight, I started taking a good quality probiotic called Probio 7. I cannot stress the difference this made. I have no more breathing difficulties, all gone. My skin is clear. I have no intolerances to any foods.  The belching and acid reflux has largely stopped. However taking a supplement like this will only help redress the imbalance. To really fight these bad guys I needed to change the way I eat (note- a work in progress, for another post!)

I couldn’t believe it was so simple, and that mostly mainstream medical services such as GPs and doctors don’t even look at this as a possibility when people come to them with these kind of symptoms.

Why is the gut important?

So I found out after about six months of awful symptoms that I had a gut imbalance. Mostly doing my own detective work. It was the first time I’d learnt how important good bacteria was to our bodies.

But why is the gut so important in  keeping us healthy?  Well there are 100 trillion of those little bacteria guys in our body, most of them sitting there in the gut getting on with life and they need to be fed good healthy stuff to keep fighting the good fight. They don’t like medications that alter the gut, and they hate antibiotics.

Read this article which will give you loads more good facts about the gut than I can, but essentially the gut is just as important as your brain in managing serotonin (the happy chemical that’s often low in the case of depression)  and has a hand in regulating your hormones, digestion, producing vitamins,  fighting illness, absorbing the good stuff from your food and managing your mental health. Read here for more symptoms of a gut imbalance.

How does the bad bacteria muscle it’s way in?

So if it’s so important why don’t we treat it like our best friend and shower it with love, good food and great care?

Well modern living has kind of stripped us of what keeps our gut in check. Modern stressors such as busy lives, medications, high sugar and low fibre diets , our preoccupation with dispensing antibac gel at every opportunity and overuse of antibiotics are all  enemies of good bacteria. Most of us can put our hands up to at least one of those as a possibility. Find more about the friends of  bad bacteria here.

What can we do about bad bacteria?

So this is the good news. You can kick the ass of bad bacteria and build up your good bacteria. This will hopefully reduce or even eliminate issues such as food intolerances, hormone imbalances, and may even reduce anxiety and depression. Good stuff huh?

So there’s some key ways you can keep or improve your gut health;

Top ways to improve your gut health
  • Try using organic/natural products – products that contain lots of toxins/harsh chemicals can affect your gut whether from floating about in the air or being ingested through skin or orifices!
  • Eat fermented foods – fermented foods help improve gut bacteria. Have a look here for a list of fermented foods. Yoghurt is probably the most common one of these. I like Alpro Go On –  a soya based fermented yoghurt type thingy with a fruit layer and extra protein.
  • Take a probiotic – Probiotics should have at least 4 million bacteria per dose, and have a mix of different types of bacteria. There are lots of schools of thoughts on the bacteria types you should use. So try reading up on them here and here.
  • Reduce stress – Stress is also a big grower of the nasty stuff. We live in a world full of stresses; from social media overload to time pressures to work stress. Try cutting the stress down to help the healthy bacteria sing and dance in your gut.

Here’s some more advice on how to heal an unhealthy gut.

Have you had this problem?

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve experience a gut imbalance or you’ve got any tips for me or readers of the blog that might help boost our good gut friends…




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