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Gut Health

Your Health, Your Hands: Probiotic and Prebiotic How-tos

Your Health, Your Hands: Probiotic and Prebiotic How-tos
Writer and expert2 months ago
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In recent years, there has been a growing trend of people taking control of their own health. With the help of technology, it’s now easier than ever to track your health and make informed decisions about your wellbeing. From health tracking apps to supplements and routines, there are many tools available to help you take charge of your health, including your gut health. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of using these tools and how they can help you achieve optimal health.

The importance of routine

A routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed” and research has shown that maintaining a daily routine can greatly improve mental and physical health. The simple act of carrying out tasks which involve minimal thought, as they have become habitual, reduces the number of decisions you have to make and subsequently, the amount of stress you feel.

Our bodies are governed by a 24-hour day-night cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm, which is regulated by our brain sending signals to the rest of our body based on external input it receives from the eyes, specifically in relation to environmental light. This input tells our brain what time of day it is and therefore how our bodily functions should be acting. Disruptions to this day-night cycle, for example eating at night as opposed to in the day, can have a huge impact on the composition of the gut microbiome, gut motility, the immune system and appetite regulation.

Try to give yourself enough time in the morning to have a healthy breakfast consisting of foods high in fibre and prebiotics to support the gut microbiome. Fibre found in foods such as fruits, nuts and seeds assists in maintaining energy levels, stabilising blood glucose levels and reducing the likelihood of constipation. Stewed fruits such as apples and berries are a great addition to some Greek yoghurt, as apples contain pectin which has been shown to interact positively with the gastrointestinal immune barrier. Caffeine is also a good choice in the morning, not only for the energy boost but for its anti-inflammatory properties and prebiotic effect on the body.

Staying properly hydrated is also essential for our body to function optimally. Not only does it assist in maintaining body temperature, lubricating joints and protecting our brain, but regularly drinking fluids throughout the day can have a massive impact on gut health. The body uses fluid to transport essential enzymes needed in digestion, as well as assist in the movement of food throughout the digestive system. By keeping fluid levels topped up, you can reduce the risk of intestinal inflammation, constipation and subsequent damage to the gut lining also improving your digestive health.

Tracking your health

It’s undeniable that wearable lifestyle trackers and wellness apps have made it a lot easier for individuals to take control of their health. By giving users the ability to continually monitor aspects of their health such as physical activity levels, heart rate, sleep quality and calorie intake, it allows for more informed and beneficial lifestyle decisions.

A prominent feature of most fitness trackers and apps is the ability to record calorie and nutrient intake, in essence creating a food diary. This is useful in ensuring that your body is getting the necessary amount of water, fibre and pre and pro-biotics throughout the day to optimise gut health. Keeping a food diary is also beneficial for identifying certain foods which may be exacerbating any gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Having consistently disrupted or poor-quality sleep can lead to a decrease in microbiome diversity in the gut, and in turn negatively impact a variety of functions, including immunity, metabolism, digestive efficiency and mental health. Similarly, poor sleep quality can contribute to an increased risk of gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes and heart conditions. Serotonin, also known as the “happy chemical”, is hugely responsible for mood, sleep and digestion, and with 95% of serotonin being synthesised in the gut, it is crucial to maintain a happy and flourishing gut microbiota. Tracking your sleep cycle using a wearable health tracker in combination with an app is a great way to gain insight into your total sleep time, resting heart rate, body temperature and what stage of sleep you are in throughout the night.

There are also numerous health and wellness apps more specifically targeted to tracking gut health that can be hugely beneficial to those individuals suffering from gastrointestinal disorders who wish to take more control over their symptoms. The complexity of these apps varies, with some simply containing a food database in which users can search for specific items and check them for suitability against intolerances or conditions, whilst others include ways to track food and water intake, stress levels, toilet habits, bowel movements and symptoms. The aim of these is to create a virtual diary in which connections can be made between lifestyle habits and symptom flare-ups, subsequently helping people to manage these more effectively.


Consuming a varied and healthy diet rich in fibre and probiotics, avoiding high-sugar, processed foods and keeping stress levels as low as possible is always the best way to support your gut flora whilst gaining health benefits. However, life can sometimes get in the way of maintaining this perfect balance, which is where supplements come in.

Probiotics are live bacteria naturally found in yogurts and fermented foods. They can also be added to foods or taken as food supplements. Probiotics contain “friendly” bacteria to help restore the natural balance in the gut. Having a good level of gut flora helps to break down fibre, metabolise food and ensure harmful bacteria don’t flourish. Probiotics can also assist in easing the symptoms of IBS, including bloating and diarrhoea.

Prebiotics are a dietary fibre found naturally in foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and artichokes. Prebiotics cannot be digested until reaching the colon, where they are fermented and used as fuel for the “friendly” gut bacteria. The fermentation process reduces inflammation by producing short-chain fatty acids which prevent excessive immune response in the gut.

Other food supplements beneficial to gut health include digestive enzymes which assist in breaking down food in the digestive tract. The enzymes include protease, amylase, lipase, lactase and cellulase. Without enough of these enzymes in the gut, problems such as bloating, gas and indigestion can occur. Curcumin, a natural compound found in turmeric, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can be extremely beneficial to individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, IBS and leaky bowel syndrome. Glycine, an amino acid found in collagen, is also an anti-inflammatory and can aid in digestion by stimulating the production of stomach acid.

In summary, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to managing your own health, but taking advantage of the products and tools available can make life a lot easier. The first step comes from taking responsibility for your body and committing to making positive changes which will benefit you in the long run. Your gut will thank you for it!

Writer and expert
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