One of the best things to have happened in the last few years is the fact that health has come to the forefront. People, no matter what age group, are becoming more and more serious about taking care of their health. And while a lot of us lay emphasis on physical and mental well being, there’s one aspect we tend to ignore- gut health. Yes!
Gut health primarily deals with the thousands of microbes in our digestive tract. In fact, studies have shown how maintaining good gut health is vital for physical & mental well being, immunity and various other important factors. And because we care about you, we got in touch with a holistic health coach, Preety Tyagi, to tell us all about gut health and how can we improve it. People, take notes, and definitely share with your loved ones!
Hi Preety. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?
I am a Holistic Health Coach, certified from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York. I have done my specialization in Gut Health and Hormonal Health, which is majorly correlated with each other. I am the founder of My22BMI, a Digital Health and Wellness Platform where people can get proper scientific diet and nutrition planning done by specialized health coaches and achieve their health goals in the long run. I am also a healthy cooking enthusiast, having taken up courses in the food domain for many years and in different cuisines so far.
Great! We know that you Specialize in Gut health. But sadly in our country, all the emphasis is on weight loss and not much on fitness, let alone gut health. So, could you tell us a bit about gut health and why is it so important?
Exactly, when the term diet is referred to in India, it means a weight loss diet or a crash diet that is usually designed to lure people into for a short term basis. Those diets are highly impractical in the long run and can have a devastating impact on a person’s nutritional health. It, therefore, becomes very important that people analyze both the pros and cons of a diet before taking it up.
A gut-healthy diet is basically a diet where you cut down on the irritants that harm or weaken your gut microbiome and go heavy on the nutrients, the foods which help you replenish your Gut Lining. A Gut Healthy diet keeps your digestive system in a comfortable situation and hence, helps it heal and nourished. In the long run, it benefits you by keeping your body healthy and bodyweight appropriate. A Gut Healthy diet is mostly a Balanced Diet with no crash dieting involved at all.
How can someone determine if they have bad gut health?
Bad Gut Health can affect different people differently. A bad gut makes it hard for the body to properly digest the food it consumes and hence makes it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrition. Which is why the body starts using the nutrition stored in various parts of the body. For example, it may start depleting a person’s bone health. For others, it may affect their nervous system. Hormonal Health, Skin Hair and nails problems, psychological and mental health is all correlated to Gut Health. I would like to quote Hippocrates here, ‘All disease is born in the Gut.’ So, one should better take care of it from the very beginning.
And how can we improve our gut health?
Your body tells you all, a person having a healthy gut reflects it in all his activities. The simplest way to understand is through digestive health issues. If you find trouble digesting food or feel uncomfortable after consuming foods, that means your body has to work extra hard to digest your food for you. And that’s a sign of weak Gut Health. But the good news is, proper food intake with some supplemental support, a person can easily put his/her Gut Health back in track. Thank God! that our bodies are so forgiving in nature.
Is there any relation between gut health and our sleep, mood, weight, and skin? Can you explain to us about it?
Absolutely! Do you know, 90 per cent of serotonin, which is an essential brain enzyme, responsible for our moods and happiness and stress, is produced in our Gut and not in our brain? Who knew right, that an enzyme that regulates our quotient of happiness is produced in our gut! So, what we eat is, as a matter of fact, is directly proportional to our mental health, mood swings, sleep, beauty, and health.
Wow! So, can you tell us a bit about the diet one should take to keep their gut in top health? And what foods to avoid?
Always begin by avoiding all processed foods. Take a pledge to go zero processed food diet and it’s not so difficult as I practice it for my family as well. The chemicals and taste enhancers and preservatives added to such foods are bad for our body as a whole. Anything that can be consumed by directly opening up a can, bottle, packet or bag must be avoided. Go for foods cooked fresh from scratch. These days, there are plenty of home bakers and home chefs to look up to in case you find it hard given a busy lifestyle. Apart from this, avoid any foods that make your stomach bloat or make you feel uncomfortable after consuming. This in itself will give enough rest and time for your Gut to heal. Remember, it’s a process and not a one day trick. Take up an exercise that works for you. Devote an hour of your daily routine to your physical and mental well being. Avoid too much salt, fried, or foods artificially coloured or over-processed. Go for simpler, home-cooked meals. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine abuse.
Okay, so what superfoods do you feel one must include in their diet to improve gut health?
Some superfoods to help promote a Healthy Gut for all are- Ghee, Coconut Oil, Coconut in any form actually, Chia seeds, Hemp seeds, Flax seeds, Almond Milk, Probiotics, Yogurts, Fermented foods, Fermented drinks.
Can you tell us a bit about probiotics & prebiotics? Why are they so important and how do they improve gut health?
Probiotics are foods rich in certain bacteria that help us break down, digest our food in the best possible way and also in absorption of nutrients. Hence, it is most important for us. They play the biggest role in keeping our gut healthy by providing a balance of good bacteria in our Gut Microbiome. Prebiotics are mainly responsible for keeping the health of our small intestine in shape. Hence, it is extremely crucial as well. As all the digestion starts from there. Keep prebiotics and probiotics in your daily diet and stay away from many diseases, just like that. Supplements are also available for those, who find it hard to consume these on a daily basis.
In today’s hectic life, time is definitely a luxury. Can you tell us 5 easy & quick steps in day-to-day life which will ensure good gut health?
It all begins with proper planning. Plan your meals ahead or have someone else do it for you. Get a Health Coach who does the most time-consuming job of planning your diet for you. Secondly, keep your kitchen and pantry, junk-free and loaded with fresh foods and fresh supplies. This saves one from the danger of eating a junky bag of chips when hungry. Remember, it’s always much better to grab an apple and munch on it instead. Thirdly, have someone cook for you or rely on home chefs and home bakers instead.
If it’s impossible for you to be doing your cooking and meal planning yourself, hire appropriate people for the same job and invest in yourself. Fourthly, always keep a water bottle, tiny boxes of healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds in your bag, office table, work table everywhere. Carry a healthy drink with you while accompanying your friends for coffee breaks. Lastly, make your health a priority. Invest your time, money and resources and make it happen. Take time out to exercise or even go for holistic ways of healthy living. Remember, health is the real wealth.
Does menstruation have any relation with gut health? Should women take some extra precaution during those days, especially since bloating is something a lot of women complain about?
Yes! Of course. Bloating is a problem with both men and women because of weak Gut Health. The menstrual bloating in women can also be avoided by eating the right foods and doing the right practices such as Yoga. There are many asanas there that promote healthy menstrual health.
Lastly, can you tell us how can older people, say above 55, can improve their gut health?
The older we get, the more careful we must be towards our gut health. Eating foods that are light on our tummy and are nonfried and non-processed are best to be had. It’s very crucial to have an active life as well while eating healthy. However, the rules of healthy Gut diet remains the same for all.
Okay, people, that concludes our super helpful & informative conversation with coach Preeti Tyagi. We hope you got a learn a lot, just like us! Let us know your views in the comments below.