Nutrition provides energy, specific nutrients for processes in the body and building blocks (e.g., muscles, bones) in the body.  The main part of our digestive system is our stomach and intestines, (commonly referred to as the ‘gut’).  It influences and interacts with many other processes in the body via the gut-brain connection and our gut contributes to over 70% of our immune system.

You may have heard of “eating the rainbow” which is referring to the science of how dietary diversity feeds diversity of the bacteria that play a key role in the body’s digestive system

Research continues to find out more about the bacterial composition in our gut and its relationship to chronic health diseases such as mental health conditions, diabetes, and autism.

Note: Any dietary restriction should be done with the guidance of a dietician or registered nutritionist.

All those centuries ago Hippocrates said,
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Start with these FIVE simple changes

1. Drink water

hydration keeps the body hydrated, supports gut motility and energy production. Water is needed at every stage of digestion, especially in the small intestine for absorption[1].

Recommendation: drink 1.5/2L of water throughout the day.  This includes juices, tea, and herbal teas.  AND keep drink until your urine is clear to help the body cleanse daily.

2. Eat clean food

eat homemade food (think Grandma’s recipes) and avoid processed foods. For foods in cans, tins and bags always read the labels and know what you are eating.

Geri Brewster says “The best self-care is to plan meals every day.  Don’t be at the mercy of grab and go”

3. Eat a rainbow everyday

You may have heard of “eating the rainbow” which is referring to the science of how dietary diversity feeds diversity of the bacteria that play a key role in the body’s digestive system.

Take the “50 food challenge” using the chart in this link.   Keep track of every different food type you eat for a week and aim for at least 50 foods, mostly plant-based and of all colours of the rainbow (see the picture below for ideas).  You can only record a food type once.  Herbs, spices, and oils all count as individual, but bread and pasta count are one type.

4. Balance blood sugar levels

to avoid the cravings and symptoms like dizziness, headaches, muscle weakness when blood sugar is low or hyperactivity, irritability, and energy slumps if blood sugar is raised.

Eat regularly every 3-4 hours and balance all meals and snacks with protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial fats.  Rest the digestive system overnight, i.e. don’t eat for at least 12 hours. 

5. Be mindful of daily sugar intake

it is sweet and fun, but the average daily allowance is 30gms per day which is just 6 teaspoons. This is equivalent to a vanilla late and a blueberry muffin because these contain processed sugars, fruit sugar and sugar in the wheat flour. The body does need a steady supply of energy but not a lot all at once.  Sugars include glucose, sucrose, fructose (fruit sugar, high fructose corn syrup), lactose (milk sugar), and sugar polyols (i.e., sorbitol, mannitol in fruits, vegetables, and artificial sweeteners).

[1] Arnaud, M.J., 2003. Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation? European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, S88–S95.

See BANT (British Association of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine) for food guides, tracking tools, recipes, and factsheets.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is explanatory in nature and/or provides general dietary advice.  It is not personalised nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.