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17 Essential Gut Tips to Rely On

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite advice from our team of experts, including Dr Dawn Harper, Registered Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, Gastroenterology Dietitian Dr Sammie Gill and Dietitian Laura Tilt. No matter where you are in your journey, these actionable tips are on hand for whenever you need them. Your gut bugs will thank you for listening.

1. Eat a rainbow

I have been busy planting in my greenhouse this month and have deliberately planted an array of different coloured vegetables so that I can eat a rainbow directly from my garden this summer. - Dr Dawn Harper

2. Don't overlook frozen fruit and veg

I always keep a bag of frozen berries in my freezer - it's an affordable way to get polyphenols and add variety to my diet, which supports gut health. - Rhiannon Lambert

3. Start your day with 10 mindful minutes

Stress and anxiety frazzle more than just your mental health - they affect your gut health too. Stress hormones like cortisol travel from the brain to the gut, where they can trigger gut symptoms like tummy pain and more frequent trips to the loo. Over the longer term, these hormones can shift the balance of bacteria in your gut in unfavourable ways, so taking steps to keep stress in check is a smart move. Instead of hitting up social media (or your emails), swap your phone for a cushion and a comfortable chair, and start your day with 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation. Research shows that regular practice can lower stress levels and combat anxiety. – Dr Sammie Gill

4. Feed your gut with the things it enjoys

Think about colour, diversity, plant-based foods and fermented foods when you do your food shop. Eat with your microbes in mind. – Dr Sammie Gill

5. Switch things up

If you love tucking into your favourite cereal every morning, throw in a handful of dried fruit, nuts or seeds to up the diversity. Big fan of mince-based dishes such as bolognaise, chilli and lasagne? Swap out half the mince for a can of lentils or mixed beans next time. Smother your toast in butter if you want to, but why not top with nut butter and berries as well? Or, enjoy a slice of Deliciously Ella's Coconut Custard Toast. – Dr Sammie Gill

6. Eat more fermented foods

Such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and live yogurt. The process of fermentation not only helps to preserve foods but may also increase the number and diversity of microorganisms within the gut. This has been associated with numerous health benefits including improved digestion, better immunity, and nutrient absorption. – Dr Chris George

7. Increase the number of plants in your diet

Aim to eat at least 30 different types of vegetables per week. Increasing the number of plants in your diet helps to increase the diversity of our microbiome which is linked to better health. Vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs and spices all count towards the goal of 30 plants per week. So become creative and adventurous with meals! – Dr Chris George

8. Keep the skins on fruit and vegetables

It’s where most of the fibre is. Remember fresh, frozen, dried, or tinned (in juice/water) count! – Dr Sammie Gill

9. Get outside and get dirty

We know that being outside is good, not just for your mental health but also your gut. Soil exposes you to a mix of different bacteria and helps diversify your microbiome (that’s a good thing). Whether that means tending to your garden, walking a nature trail, or going on a bug hunt in the garden with your kids, carve out some time to explore the great outdoors. – Dr Sammie Gill

10. Add in, not take away

One of the golden rules of looking after your gut microbiome is focusing on diversity and adding things in. It can be tempting to take foods out of the diet –particularly when you’re experiencing gut symptoms. But in the long-term, it does more harm than good. Over-restriction is not sustainable, nor beneficial for gut health and overall health. – Laura Tilt

11. Exercise regularly

This can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality which positively impacts gut health. Recent studies have shown that exercise may actually increase the number of beneficial microbes in the gut. The recommended amount of exercise for the average person is 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 mins of vigorous plus 2x strength building activities. – Dr Chris George

12. Minimise stress 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a few minutes of deep breathing can help you to feel calmer. That’s because deep breathing can switch on the parasympathetic nervous system - the opposite of the fight or flight response. Try box breathing where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four, breathe out for four and hold for four. Practice this for 1-2 minutes, really focussing on your breath. Laura Tilt shares her tips for managing the impact of stress on your gut here.  – Laura Tilt

13. Prep your snacks

Snacking often gets a bad reputation, but it’s what you’re snacking on that matters. Plus, it’s a great way to meet your daily nutrient requirements and an opportunity to feed those gut microbes. When I’m on-the-go, I always make sure I have snacks in my bag so I’m not caught out – things like fresh or dried fruit, nuts, oaty flapjacks, carrot sticks, popcorn, cereal bars, or some fruity bread. If I’m at home, I find a bowl of cereal, some natural yogurt with various toppings, carrots and hummus, or a homemade smoothie is a quick go-to snack – my favourite smoothie at the moment is milk (cow’s or plant-based) made up with banana, nut butter, oats and honey. – Laura Tilt

14. Make every meal a dinner date

There’s something to be said for mindful eating. Sit at the table, put your phone to the side, and enjoy every mouthful (remembering to chew, chew, chew). – Dr Sammie Gill

15. Create a calm environment when eating 

The NHS recommends that we avoid eating when we're very stressed, anxious, or unhappy because our emotions can disturb our digestion. Try to create calm mealtimes if you can. Take some deep belly breaths before you begin eating and minimise distractions. Take your time to eat and chew your food slowly.  – Chloe Brotheridge

16. Swap sweets for dark chocolate

When the 4pm energy and motivation crash rears its head, swap out sweets for a few squares of dark chocolate. Cocoa compounds in dark chocolate can benefit the microbiome by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria. Snaffle a few squares with a handful of walnuts for a sustaining snack that contains nutrients for both belly and brain. – Laura Tilt

17. Make your bedroom a sleep haven

Sleep is a key pillar of gut health with 7-9 hours recommended per night (remember, the microbiome has its own body clock too). Now’s the time to turn your bedroom into a cosy den. Stack your bedside table with your sleep essentials, from a good book to lavender spray. Grab an eye mask, hide your phone in a cupboard and enjoy those precious zzzzzz’s. – Dr Sammie Gill