A Balanced Belly

Our gut health and digestive system have been focal points in recent years for a good reason. They are connected to everything that happens in the body! Our digestive system is like a pipe that starts at our mouth and goes all the way to our bottoms. Simply put, our gut and gut microbiome helps us digest food, absorb nutrients, produce vitamins, regulate hormones, and excrete toxins. Phew! That’s a lot when you think about it. No wonder they call the gut our second brain. 


Science is constantly evolving, and although complex, the role of our digestive health is becoming more critical in our overall health and well-being. A healthy gut has been found to promote a robust immune system, heart, and brain health, improve our mood, sleep quality and skin health.


What happens when you have an imbalance in your gut?

There are trillions of bacteria and approximately 1.5kgs of resident bugs in our guts. 

We have good and bad bugs, and we need them both, but they must be balanced. When we see an imbalance, it could be from too many bad bugs (like inflammatory bacteria, parasites and yeasts) or possibly not enough good ones (like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria). 

In addition to highly processed foods, dietary choices that have been found to negatively impact the gut include things like fast foods, food and drinks high in trans and saturated fats and sugars, excess salt, and a high intake of alcohol.

Other influences include:

  • Stress 
  • Lifestyle
  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Sleep
  • Illness
  • Food allergies and intolerances
  • Travel to different countries with poor hygiene practices and lack of clean drinking water.  
  • Medications, especially antibiotics


What are signs the gut may need attention?

Early signs that your gut may need attention include nausea, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, reflux, indigestion, bad breath, mood disturbances, food cravings and, of course, inflamed skin conditions such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, or rosacea. If you have an inflamed skin condition, it may be worth looking at your gut health.


So how does it affect the skin?

Research shows a link between our brains, gut, and skin, known as the gut-skin axis. The resident bugs in our gut are in constant communication with our skin. If our resident bugs are unbalanced, it can trigger the alarm bells, ramping up the inflammatory response in our skin. 


Do bowel movements play a role in gut health?

Often, we ask about digestion and bowel movements during skin consultations. A topic that may seem strange and slightly uncomfortable, however, can be a good indicator of gut health.

Healthy bowel movements are essential for your overall health. It can be common to see people saying they go 3 times a day to 3 times a week. However, ideally, you want to be moving your bowels once a day. Any less frequent can cause congestion in the bowels and back up the digestive system, meaning your body is not eliminating waste – leading to a build up of toxins.

Did you know your skin is an excretory organ? So if your waste isn’t leaving through the back door, its going to find another way out!

Looking at this Bristol Stool Chart, you’ll be able to clearly see the different types of poos we can do. If you are not regularly moving your bowels or pooing more than three times a day, experiencing type 1, 2, 5, 6 or 7 on the chart, whether it’s for short or long periods, you may need to consider the health of your gut and the effect that it may be having on your skin.



 Tips for better bowel movements


Here are some healthy tips to get your digestive system eliminating firm and formed stools daily, along with creating a good gut diversity. 

  • The daily recommended amounts are 25g for women and of 30g of fibre for men. This looks like five to six servings of veggies, two servings of fruit, and at least four to six servings of whole grains per day.
  • Aim for two to three litres a day. It is essential to stay hydrated. Water will also assist with moving your daily dose of fibre through the belly. 
  • Move your bodies! Staying physically active will encourage regular bowel movements and can alleviate constipation. It’s also great for relieving stress and improving the gut-brain connection.
  • Consider taking a probiotic. Probiotics have been found to improve gut diversity and improve gut health. Be sure to purchase a strain proven to target gut health. 
  • Magnesium is a great overall supplement and is often used to treat constipation. It can be a good idea to talk to your doctor or dietitian before starting any nutritional supplement.


What is a simple change everyone can make for better gut health?

Diet! A good, well-balanced diet plays one of the most essential roles in gut health and can significantly influence the balance of our resident bugs. 

Food is indeed medicine! A well-balanced diet, without a doubt, is the beginning of better gut health. We need to eat more fibre (prebiotic), greens, greens and more greens, vegetables and fruits (more colour, the better – eat like the rainbow), healthy protein, grass-fed meat, organic chicken, and healthy fats. Good fats in our diet are essential, for instance, fats from avocados, nuts, seeds and wild caught oily fish! 


Send help! What do I do if I need assistance and guidance?

Sarina – Dietitian Bites Health

Our friends over at Bites Health are team of Dietitian’s and Exercise Physiologists who use evidence-based research to help you change your lifestyle and take control of your health in a way that is enjoyable and works for you.

You can find them over at www.biteshealth.com or on Instagram and Tik Tok @biteshealthclinic