Health & Wellbeing Periods Women's Health

Gut Health: Ask The Body Experts

Sure, it’s not the most exciting bit of our body to take care of, but looking after our digestive system and keeping our bowels healthy is super-crucial to our overall wellbeing. Gut health is a hot topic with the good bacteria present in our intestines being responsible for everything from our immune system to mental health.   

Today, we get a few tips from Ro Huntriss, Consultant Dietitian and Expert for the TerriAnn 123 Diet Plan, on how to look after your gut.

Why is the digestive system important?

The digestive system is made up of the gastrointestinal tract— a series of organs joined in a long, tube from the mouth to the bum. The mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus are the hollow organs that make up the GI tract and the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are the solid organs. “Our digestive system helps us to break down food and absorb the nutrients from what we eat and drink. It’s really important to maintain a healthy digestive system as it helps us to get the most from our food and will reduce the risk of developing adverse symptoms associated with poor digestive health,” says Ro.

Can periods affect your digestion?

Have you noticed you poo a bit more when you’ve got your period? Hmm, us too and Ro says there’s definitely a link between the two. “Many women experience a change in bowel habit during their menstrual cycle and more commonly, women with existing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) may acknowledge a change. Research suggests that abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhoea can worsen in women with IBS during their menstrual cycle whilst symptoms of IBD can also worsen during this time,” she says.

What can we do to improve our gut health?

There are a few easy habits you can adopt that will improve the day-to-day function of your digestion system says Ro. Try these.

  1. “Drink plenty of fluid. Consume at least eight cups of fluid each day. This will help the passage of food through the gut and reduce the risk of constipation.
  2. “Include fibre-rich foods in your diet. You can find fibre in fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. Consuming these foods will help the passage of food through the gut and will reduce the risk of bowel cancer.
  3. “Be aware of common gut irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods and fizzy drinks. Think whether these foods are affecting your gut.
  4. “Consider a probiotic. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help to create a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut and could help to improve gut health. Probiotics can be found in food products such as yoghurts or supplements.”