I love the coaching community that I have as part of the 12 week MyMT online programmes. It’s where women get to ask questions and read my [almost daily] posts. Many of them tell me that this is how they stay motivated and up-to-date with issues that affect our age and stage. One of the powerful benefits of this programme is that I focus ONLY on mid-life women. We are often forgotten about as we head into middle age and too many other lifestyle programmes take a one-size-fits-all approach, which only adds to the confusion about how we should eat, sleep and move on a daily basis. This was how I felt when menopause symptoms were getting on top of me too. When a couple of women asked me how to restore their gut health, I was able to send them my GUT RENEWAL PLAN as part of the programme. I researched and developed it because when I arrived in peri-menopause, my gut health went out the door too.
Which is why, I am never surprised when women tell me that their GUT HEALTH isn’t so great as they arrive in mid-life. Menopause was the first time in my life that I began to feel bloated and felt like I had developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). And so many of the ladies on my programme tell me this as well. So, we all either go to the supermarket and start buying all sorts of probiotics that we don’t really understand (many are too high in added sugars) or we add even more supplements to our ‘go-to’ problem-solving list, but after a while, many of us don’t notice any difference to our gut health.
Is this you too? If it is, then let me explain…
As part of our symptom and weight loss solutions, turning around our gut health is so important. I spent hours trying to understand what to do, especially when we are inundated with all sorts of products in the supermarket that purport to solve our gut health issues. So, I have a question for you to ponder on –
“What gut health issue do you have and are you sleeping all night?’
Is it just bloating, or do you have frequent loose bowels (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or do you have a diagnosed condition such as diverticulitis or Crohn’s Disease or similar. Because these are all problems of the bowel that relate to inflammation. But at the top of the ‘pyramid’ for our gut health is still SLEEP. If you have bowel problems, then please work hard to sort out your sleep as well as your nutrition, because our gut has it’s own circadian rhythm and works on a 24 hour work/ rest cycle too. When our sleep gets out of balance, then so too does our gut. The two are related.
Know the difference between PRE-Biotics and PRO-Biotics: We have 3 areas for digestion and absorption – our stomach, our small intestine and our large intestine. So, some of you may have problems at any part of the gut-colon tract. This is why gut-health researchers focus on both pre-biotics and pro-biotics.
It’s also why I suggest that Pre-biotics are more important to sort out first than pro-biotics in mid-life. Pre-biotics come from specialised plant fibre that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the LARGE bowel or colon. While pro-biotics introduce good bacteria into the gut, pre-biotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria that’s already there. They help your good bacteria grow, improving the good-to-bad bacteria ratio. This ratio has been shown to have a direct correlation to your health and overall wellbeing, from your stomach to your brain.
Plant fibres help to promote the growth of many of the good bacteria in the gut and to help alleviate constipation. They contain amylose which also helps to reduce insulin. They are therefore called RESISTANT STARCHES. They don’t get digested in the stomach and small intestine, so they travel further down your gut into your large bowel. They are critical to your on-going health. In fact, they are really important because consuming resistance starches as pre-biotics on a daily basis decreases anxiety, depression, and stress and enhances lower levels of cortisol. As a summary, the best plant fibres for pre-biotic health are:
– skin of apples
– onions and garlic
– jerusalem artichoke
– cooked and cooled kumara
– cooked and cooled brown rice
– cabbage (cooked slightly for better digestion)
When I was really trying to understand how to turn around gut health, I went back to my history books on nutrition. World reknowned, Professor Jim Mann from Otago University in New Zealand, states that the bio-availability of nutrients from garlic and cabbage have beneficial healing effects on bowel health and cabbage is both a pre-biotic when un-cooked and a pro-biotic when fermented with salt and water, i.e. when made into sauerkraut.
To make sauerkraut, green cabbage is finely chopped and combined with sea salt and water (also known as a brine) and allowed to sit at room temperature for several days. Cabbage contains lacto-bacillus (a strain of beneficial bacteria) on its surface, and when combined with salt water, these bacteria break down the natural sugars in cabbage into lactic acid. Lactic acid then ferments the cabbage, which turns it into a pro-biotic containing food.
Fermented pro-biotic foods help to reduce inflammation and prevent disease and infection by enhancing immune response in the intestine. Cheese comes into this category too. The Human Genome Project [HGP] in 2002 was the largest study of gut health and indicated that we all have different gut bacteria levels based on how we have lived our lives, so you must figure out what you need to do for you, as far as the amount and type of different pre-biotics and pro-biotics you can tolerate – this includes cheese! In the research from the HGP studies, animals and humans subjected to a high-fat, high-sugar Western diet demonstrated rapid (negative) changes in intestinal microbial community structure, with increased numbers of harmful bacteria. But within a week, of eating fermented foods and REMOVING SUGAR and PROCESSED FOODS (especially wheat products) from the diet, the healthy gut microbial levels were partially restored.
I did buy some expensive pro-biotic supplements once, but didn’t notice much difference and I realise now that this was because I wasn’t concentrating on turning around my sleep patterns and changing my diet and exercise too. I mention exercise, because when we exercise a lot, the nerve that goes to the gut is called the Vagus nerve and during and after exercise, it can over-stimulate the gut and increase the transition of food through the gut and small intestine. When food moves too fast through the gut and small intestine, vital nutrients that our body needs aren’t absorbed as readily because this vagus nerve becomes too over-stimulated. It’s also why we need to eat when we are calm and resting. Better digestion and absorption.
How to achieve superb gut health as we age is all in the MyMT programmes and I even have a GUT REHAB plan for women with any type of gut problems as it only takes around 5-7 days to restore gut health properly.
I hope that some of you can join me. It’s not acceptable that as we enter our next 30 years that we carry over the gut problems that the last 30 years of living have contributed to!