‘How to get your sh*t together, with Gut expert Eve Kalinik'After the hedonistic (often rosé fuelled) months of summer our gut can feel a little like it needs a bit of back to school vibes so with that in mind here are a few of my top tips on how to quite literally ‘get your sh*t together’…
30 PER WEEK
You may have heard of the phrase ‘5-a-day’ but actually research shows 30-per-week is really the main aim of the gut health game. ‘Eating the rainbow’ might seem a tad cliched but it is also a good visual representation of how we can aim to get more diversity in our plant-food intake. This is because including a wide variety of colourful fruit and veg as well as whole grains and nuts & seeds provides myriad sources of fibre and polyphenols that are essential to support our gut microbiome (all the bugs that live in our gut). You might be wondering how the heck can I reach that 30+ quota so here’s a few of my hacks…
- Make up nut & seed mixes that you can sprinkle over overnight oats, soups, salads, veggies, anything really. Try my Peanut, Coconut & Chilli crunch https://evekalinik.com/peanut-coconut-chilli-crunch/
- Pack your cupboard full of spices and dried herbs which helps to add flavour and a boost of polyphenols – it’s a win win for us and our microbiome!
- Don’t forget about frozen fruit and veg or those in jars that can be super convenient just like using frozen cherries in my Bakewell Bircher recipe from my book HAPPY GUT, HAPPY MIND that you can find here https://moveyourframe.com/eves-bakewell-bircher/
- Rotate your grains so that you can diversify with the stereotypical morning oats with other options like buckwheat, quinoa, millet and spelt.
- Look at veg boxes that can give you some natural seasonal rotation. I particularly rate Odd Box for this as they also actively fight food waste
FEED & SEED
Often the analogy of a gut garden is a good one to have in mind and like our garden we need to practise our own gut horticulture. Feeding the gut with fibre as per the above is crucial to this but we also need some extra ‘fertiliser’ which can be found in prebiotic foods. These include garlic, onions, leeks, oats, rye, spelt, cashews, pistachios and chicory root. If you struggle to get some of these foods in on a regular basis or you just want to give a little boost you can always use a clinically backed prebiotic supplement like Bimuno https://www.bimuno.com
Similarly, planting seeds aka probiotics helps the gut microbiome to positively bloom which comes from fermented foods since they contain sources of bacteria that are beneficial for our gut health. These include ‘live’ natural yogurts, cheese, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh and kvass to name a few. I really rate Cult Jar https://cultjar.co.uk for their exceptional ferments. And if you want to include a probiotic supplement that includes clinically researched strains my recommended go to is KÄLLA https://kalla.com/gb
Why not also try this pre and probiotic feast of a recipe Harissa tray bake https://evekalinik.com/harissa-tray-bake-with-lemon-and-pomegranate-dressing/ or these kimchi spiked pancakes https://evekalinik.com/kimchi-pancakes-with-sesame-cucumber-ribbons/
REST & DIGEST
A major part of supporting a healthy gut is how we are eating and in fact meal times can act as pockets of recovery throughout the day. Plus the very act of slowing down and chewing properly can alleviate some of the more common gut complaints like bloating, reflux and lack of satiety after meals.
With that in mind, remove all distractions and devices at meal times (emails at lunchtime can wait) and instead focus on the process of eating, tasting and getting full enjoyment out of our food. Presenting our food on a nice plate can also be game changing in terms of encouraging us to slow it down over meals so even the most basic of meals can be elevated to new gastronomic heights by visually representing it in a way that is thoughtful and considered. You will be really surprised at this one.
Using some kind of daily mindful breathing or meditation practice helps to support the gut-brain connection and also help us to better cope with the stressors in our life. We cannot always change some of these stressful factors but we can cultivate a mind that is better equipped to deal with them. Diaphragmatic ‘belly’ breathing forms the basis of many meditative practises including yoga and t’ai chi that has a stimulating yet soothing effect on the vagus nerve that joins the gut and the brain. Strat by breathing through the nose, deep into the abdomen and fully filling up the lungs from bottom to top. Then slowly begin to release the air through the nose until you have fully ‘emptied the tank’. Counting to 4 or 5 on each side of the breath is a good way to ensure both parts have equal measure. Try this for 10 minutes per day at the end of the day to promote better sleep, to ground yourself for the day ahead, or whenever you face a stressful situation so you can have a moment to collect your thoughts.
DOING THE DO
And finally but arguably most importantly, many of us just take for granted the daily ‘gift’ that our gut gives to us which when you look at the arduous process of digestion is actually something rather magical. Yes I just called your sh*t magical. Mastering our pooping technique is serious business. However rushing around and not allowing adequate time for it doesn’t give our gut ample opportunity to perform at its best. Lots of us have the strongest urge to poop in the morning so its is important to let your gut have a bit of ‘warm up’ time rather than bolting out of the door. The prime positioning for this can also be tweaked by slightly leaning forward with a straight spine and crucially taking a moment to relax into your position – although reading material should not be a prerequisite either. Once done, we can take a moment to enjoy a sense of ‘evacuation euphoria’ and go about our daily business, now that we have done the business.