Sydney accredited dietician and nutritionist Rebecca Gawthorne breaks down the science behind gut health and how it could be affecting everything from your skin to your mental health.
Let’s talk gut health. In simple terms, gut health refers to the function and balance of bacteria in the many parts of the digestive tract and is important for transporting food, breaking down nutrients and absorbing them into the bloodstream.
Recent studies have found that there is a lot more to the gut than this simple function. And its not just about what you eat, gut health is affected by a myriad of other factors;
“Food definitely plays a huge role in our gut health but so do other factors like stress and exercise, they impact our gut health as well as sleep.” Rebecca says.
Rebecca Gawthorne, AKA ‘Nourish Naturally’, encourages her 155k Instagram followers to “nourish not restrict”. In partnership with Lo Bros Kombucha, Rebecca shares her knowledge on gut health and how to reboot health through dietary and lifestyle changes.
With 95% of the body’s serotonin produced and stored in the gut, it’s no surprise that the gut and mental health are strongly linked.
“There is research to show that there is a link between poor gut health and depression, anxiety and fatigue. We do need good gut health for our mood and mental health.”
The body works like a complex machine connected by multiple pathways. While gut microbes are scientifically found to be linked with mental health, they have also been found to store depressive behaviours. Unnecessary stress can increase these symptoms so wellness and self-care is a must for taking care of the gut.
It is also important to remember the skin is the largest organ in the human body and can often be used to monitor internal health such as inflammation caused by leaky gut. Poor gut health can present itself in a range of skin conditions.
“Our gut definitely impacts our skin health and poor gut health can lead to things like acne, atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis” warns Rebecca.
Healing skin conditions is more than establishing an effective skincare routine. Heal from the inside out by targeting the imbalance of gut bacteria and having a strong supply of vitamins and minerals to get clear, glowing skin.
“It is really important that we look after our gut health because our gut health actually impacts our entire health and wellbeing.” Rebecca says.
Healing the Gut
According to the 2022 Lo Bros Doin’ Good study, by Lo Bros Kombucha, over 3.1 million Australians have reported an increase in stomach and digestive issues since the pandemic.
Other signs of poor gut health include bloating before or after meals, constant sugar cravings, low energy levels, struggles with sleep, fatigue or a general sluggish feeling and dizziness.
Luckily if your gut health is poor, or you’re looking to improve, Rebecca says there are some easy ways to start healing and repairing your gut.
“My first tip would be to eat a variety of plant based foods everyday – this is key for gut health.
“I would also recommend including probiotic rich foods. So, probiotics are live bacteria, that when we consume them in adequate amounts, they support a healthy gut. Probiotic rich foods include things like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and natural kombuchas like lo bros kombucha.”
While you might be familiar with probiotics, Rebecca says its important to place just as much emphasis on prebiotics.
“My next tip would be to eat foods rich in prebiotics, so prebiotics are the fibers that fuel the probiotics, the good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotic foods include garlic, onion, green bananas, legumes, nuts, asparagus, artichokes etc.
“They are all really key and from a lifestyle perspective, making sure you’re staying hydrated, exercising, managing stress levels and managing any food intolerances as well.”
Rebecca says that when trying to change your lifestyle and habits, it’s key to set yourself up for success.
“Make your environment work for you not against you. Set up your house to make sure you can eat healthy. That means you need to shop healthy; you need to stock your fridge and pantry full of healthy foods, you need to do some meal prep so healthy food is ready when you’re tired and stressed and need to quickly grab something.”
For more tips, Rebecca’s Instagram is filled with recipes, shopping guides and even more on gut health.