It’s amazing how many questions I get from clients (particularly those who have already lost a lot of weight) who are looking for tips for that final flattening of the tummy. For these clients, it’s not about weight loss, but about losing the bloat. This is where gut health comes in.

Gut health is definitely the current buzzword in the health and fitness industry, and for good reason. From aiding weight loss, preventing illness, boosting your mood and reducing your risk of disease, the list of benefits that come with keeping your gut health up to scratch goes far beyond digestion.

The thing about gut health is that even our regular daily habits can have a massive impact on the good and bad bacteria. So when it comes to those probiotics, kimchi and kombucha you’re always hearing about – they really can do plenty to keep your gut happy and healthy. Unfortunately, this also means there’s some that some of your regular habits (that you probably don’t even know you’re doing) could seriously be getting your gut in a rut. So today, I’m here to talk about the 5 habits that could be doing your gut more harm than good and my quick simply fixes to get on top of them.

1. Forgetting your fibre

The gut relies on fibre for digestion, a feeling of satiety and to stabilise our blood sugars, but the bad news is that most Australians aren’t getting enough of it each day. The good news? Upping your fibre intake is seriously easy. A fibre rich diet will include plenty of fruit, vegies and whole grains. So, if your trying to up your intake think porridge for breaky, try popcorn, nuts or fruit as a snack, a wholegrain sandwich for lunch and always try to squeeze some vegies in (dare I say broccoli) wherever possible.    

2. Scoffing your food

Throwing down your dinner like it’s going out of fashion is a recipe for disaster for your gut. When we eat too quickly, we tend to consume more food than we need without giving our body the chance to signal that we’re full and this seriously impacts our digestion. Slow it down, focus on really enjoying your food and try to stretch your meal out over 20-30 minutes.

3. Not mixing it up

I’m always saying that when it comes to eating well, variety truly is the spice of life. When we’re talking about keeping our gut in tip top shape it couldn’t be more spot on. The gut craves a diverse range of whole foods and nutrients to function at optimal health, so a diet that lacks versatility won’t do much to keep your gut happy and healthy. Don’t worry – if you’re someone that eats chicken for lunch and dinner every day of the week then I’m not saying you have to ditch your one true love. Stick to what works for you but try to add variety with your sides by mixing up your usual veggies for lunch and dinner.

4. Not prioritising sleep

It might be hard to believe, but not getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night can do more than make you tired, foggy and unpleasant to be around, but can seriously influence the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Research shows that 7.5 hours a night is truly the magic number, so try to prioritise your sleep by setting a bed time to stick to each night and ditching all things digital the hour before you head off to sleep.

5. Too much of the sweet stuff

Sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, so sadly your sweet tooth could be getting your gut in a rut. Coming from a self-confessed chocoholic – my first piece of advice is to be realistic and remember that balance is everything. Don’t stress about cutting out chocolate, lollies (or whatever your sugary vice might be) completely. If you can focus on reducing your refined sugar intake by substituting for healthier sweet alternatives, your gut will already be in good stead. Give my Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Slice a go next time those sweet cravings hit you hard, I guarantee they’ll hit the spot!

Sam Wood is the founder of online training and nutrition program 28 by Sam Wood and Australia’s largest personal training gym ‘The Woodshed’. 

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