Good gut health
Do you suffer in silence from gut health issues?
Staying silent may not be the answer as gut health issues are connected to the onset and worsening of several chronic illnesses beyond digestive issues. Stomach cramps, with or without bloating, a feeling of a full tummy even hours after eating, constipation or diarrhoea and bloating are experienced by many of us. There may be good days with no symptoms and bad days with severe symptoms in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is one of the most common gut health disorders, with nearly 10% of the European population suffering from it.
Digestive health issues can hugely compromise one’s quality of life. Often, an ongoing digestive health issue without any known structural causes is termed IBS, so it’s important to investigate the underlying causes. Infections, inflammation, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, microbial imbalance, fungal overload and even parasites can all cause gut health issues and further trigger other chronic health problems.
If you suffer from bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, acid reflux or food intolerances these are probably already altering how efficiently your gut and digestion are working, and leading to nutritional deficiencies, inflammation, poor immunity and even the development of chronic disease conditions.
When not addressed, gut health problems can lead to hormonal issues, autoimmune conditions, joint pain, skin problems, headaches and contribute to depression or anxiety. It’s of vital importance to investigate digestive functions, absorption, inflammation and the gut microbiome to determine root causes and correct underlying problems.
Research shows how the gut microbiome — so large it could be considered an organ by itself — can contribute to poor health.
The gut is a vital defence system and is interconnected with every other bodily system. Gut health function, when investigated from an Ayurvedic and functional medicine perspective, can reveal the underlying causes of gut dysfunction so that a targeted treatment approach can be initiated. These include specific diets, nutritional supplements, Ayurvedic detoxification regimes, phytonutrients and nutritional supplements.
Based on understanding the causes of gut health issues, there are a number of ways to improve gut health by making dietary changes. Often following the healthy eating principles of Ayurveda such as eating at regular times, cutting down portion size during evening times, using spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, fennel, fresh herbs in food can help in healing the gut. Sometimes, based on the gut function test results, specific diets such as the low FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols) diet will have to be followed. This diet includes fruits such as blueberries, coconut, lemon juice, raspberries, strawberries; vegetables such as aubergine, green beans, beetroot, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, gluten-free bread, gluten free oats, quinoa; nuts such as almonds, brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts; and seeds such as sesame seeds, sunflower seeds; plus good fats like ghee and cold pressed-oils.
Correcting gut health functions using Ayurveda can be helpful as Ayurveda utilises inter-person variability of digestive functions and individual personality types in understanding the condition. This can help in developing treatment approaches to customise nutritional plans based on one’s constitution, individual food habits, digestive capacity and bowel sensitivity. As such, utilising gut function testing, functional medicine and Ayurveda can lay a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Dr Vijay Murthy
First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.