Here are 5 top tips to help keep your gut healthy

Now, more than ever, we’re aware that our health is our wealth. LloydsPharmacy, Ireland’s leading pharmacy chain, is on a mission to help people introduce healthier habits into their lives with their new campaign Hello Health. Each week different experts share tips on how to improve our health and wellbeing and this week pharmacist Chris O’Neill is on hand with tips to help people maintain their gut health.   

Over time it’s likely that you will have heard of the importance of a healthy gut & the vital role it plays in your digestive health. However, the human gut is much more complex than previously thought. It has now been linked to numerous aspects of health previously thought to be nothing to do with digestion such as emotional wellbeing and immunity.

The gut contains millions of living organisms with up to 500 different species of bacteria in the human digestive tract. Although some bacteria are harmful to our health, many are beneficial which allow for easier digestion and absorption of nutrients. Problems arise when there is an imbalance, with not enough good bacteria. 

Chris O’Neill, the Pharmacist in LloydsPharmacy Finglas said ‘’There are 3 main symptoms that arise when our gut health isn’t where it should be. The first category to be aware of is digestive issues and stomach disturbances such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut.

The next area that indicates bad gut health is sleep disturbances and low mood. An unhealthy gut can contribute to poor sleep and therefore lead to chronic fatigue. Serotonin, which is a hormone that stabilises our mood and sleep, is mainly produced in the gut and low levels of this hormone have been linked to depression and insomnia.

Finally, be aware of chronic Inflammation in the body. Research has found that an unhealthy gut can lead to inflammation in our body changing the appearance of our skin, for example leading to conditions such as acne and eczema. Chronic inflammation can also alter the functioning of our immune systems and lead to autoimmune conditions where the body attacks itself rather than foreign invaders. All our pharmacies are open, and our teams are here to help.’’  

5 Tips to Improve Gut Health:

  1. Eat a Diet High in Fruit and Vegetables, and Low in Sugar

 Fruit and vegetables are high in fibre, and bacteria in the gut help digest this fibre which in turn stimulate their own growth. Too much sugar in the diet can cause unwanted chronic inflammation in the body. 

  1. Eat Slowly

 Chewing food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly can promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. 

  1. Stay Hydrated

 Drinking plenty of water has shown to be have a beneficial effect on the lining of the intestines and on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. 

  1. Get Enough Sleep

 Not getting enough sleep or sufficient quality of sleep can have a negative effect on your gut health and the quality of your gut microbes.  You should aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night. 

  1. Take a Probiotic Supplement

 Taking a probiotic is a great way of addressing the imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. There are many different types of probiotics which come in the form of live good bacteria. Some probiotics are taken short term to treat a current health conditions or to prevent these conditions from occurring, after taking antibiotics for example.

Many people take probiotics long term to aid digestion, improve the condition of their skin or to simply improve their overall health. Some people also take probiotics long-term to manage chronic conditions, such as auto immune disorders, as probiotics increase the amount of good bacteria which in turn help reduce inflammation in the body. It’s important to speak with your Pharmacist about which probiotic would be most suitable for you.

3 Probiotics LloydsPharmacy Recommend:

  1. OptiBac (for those on Antibiotics) - These one a day probiotics are taken alongside your course of antibiotics, a few hours apart, and for a few days after to help prevent unwanted symptoms. €9.50

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  1. OptiBac Everyday Probiotics - These high quality one a day probiotics contain 6 different strains and over 5 billion live bacteria. They also come in extra and max strengths with even more live bacteria. From €14.95

  1. Udos Choice Super 8 - These probiotics contain 8 strains and over 42 billion live friendly bacteria and are kept refrigerated to maintain the high number of good bacteria. €28.95

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Have a look on the LloydsPharmacy website to download the Hello Health booklet which is full of healthy lifestyle advice, a weekly planner and healthy recipe.

LloydsPharmacy stores are open, visit LloydsPharmacy store locator for details on your local pharmacy location and opening hours. Feel free to pop in to discuss your gut health with our highly trained pharmacy teams, or alternatively you can call your local store.