Digestive health! 5 ways to Heal Your Gut

The festive season is upon us, but it is especially at this time that I'd like to bring awareness to the gut, so year on year, we will have less fluctuations in our habits, and are actually kinder to our gut and bodies. 

Digestive Health

The optimal functioning of the body’s digestive system is known as digestive health, which helps in keeping the body in overall good health. Everything in the body, from hormones to heart, needs the nutrients from the digestive process to work in a proper way.

Digestive system is a group of organs working together in converting the consumed food into the energy and nutrients our body needs. Nutrition provides the energy required for growth and repair. It is believed that all the diseases begin from digestive tract. So, the food we consume for energy and nutrients have a great impact on our digestive as well as overall health.

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Poor Digestive Health

As the gut health is critical to general health, so unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of illnesses including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. The primary factor contributing to unhealthy gut is disturbed gut flora’s which plays an important role in human health and disease. Factors contributing to poor digestive health includes diet, food intolerances, lifestyle, hormones, sleep and medications. Antibiotics are particularly harmful to the gut flora.

Ways to Heal Your Gut

Several ways could be followed to improve digestive health, most of these ways are simple enough to be easily incorporated in daily lifestyle. So, a few simple modifications to daily routine can make a big difference in digestive health. 

1. Probiotic and Prebiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that reside in the gut while prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibers that feed probiotics. The human gut contains 10 times more bacteria than all the human cells in the entire body. This good microflora support immune system, aid in the elimination of toxins and help to regulate metabolism. So, it is vital to consume probiotic and prebiotics both on a daily basis.

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt. Rich sources of prebiotics include green leafy vegetables, citrus, flaxseed and apples etc. 

2. Remove foods that are not working for you

An inflamed intestinal system leads to increasing intolerances to foods that otherwise we can tolerate.  We get bloated, foggy brained, or tired after a meal containing items we are sensitive to.  

The big culprits tend to be dairy, gluten and sugar, and you may have to begin listening to your body to work out what else you might not be responding well to. 

Perhaps you feel washed out after a meal, or fatigued when you are meant to be nourished.  Think about the food you just ate and consider if it is causing those symptoms.

Some people prefer to use tests to help hone in on probable foods as they can't receive feedback from their bodies.  

After eliminating the offending foods for 21 days and you have somewhat healed, you may begin to reintroduce them.  It is not forever.  

3. Eat a mix of raw and cooked foods

This is for enzymes. 

While most with established gut problems will have digestion problems and will need to take digestive enzymes until they establish a proper digestion, the rest of us will benefit from getting natural enzymes from raw food.

That said, humans have evolved shorter guts and are not efficient digesters and so as it stands we are more suited to both raw and cooked, rather than all raw.

Digestion starts in the mouth. Do you chew at least 20 times for this to occur?

Digestion starts in the mouth. Do you chew at least 20 times for this to occur?


4. Clean and colourful diet

Cut simple sugars and processed food!  These are not naturally found foods and while they sold a hunger issue temporarily, they are nutritionally poor.  Sugars in particular are harming our body's insulin and metabolic systems, and causing unprecedented levels of inflammation in the body.  

Eat a varied diet.  Compared with our biological ancestors, due to industrialisation of food supplies we only eat a very small selection of crop.  This is a lack of diversity and is harming our microflora who are the bacteria that run the show!


5. Increase Physical Activity

Increase physical activity and a balanced body weight can help maintain a healthy digestive system. Thus, Exercising can help lower the risk. Similar to other health benefits, exercise helps in speeding up the digestion and maintain a healthy weight. Those who are overweight or underweight are prone to more digestive problems.

Book a consult today to get under your digestive issues!



Signs of iron deficiency (Could you benefit from an IV iron drip?)

[This article was first published on sassymamasg.com] 

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency globally, affecting 1 in 3 women worldwide.

Symptoms include fatigue, hair loss, brain fog, poor immune function (i.e. more prone to the common cold/flu), cold intolerance and much more.  

Unfortunately, it is usually only detected when you become anaemic and have been suffering from suboptimal health and lowered mood and brain function for years by that point.

Get your energy back!

Get your energy back!

I am iron deficient but I feel fine!

This is because iron depletes slowly, day by day, over years.  You may not notice, or put it down to stress or lifestyle.   The human body is excellent at compensating. 

No matter how fine you feel while iron deficient, you are at increased risk of poorer heart health in the long run if iron is not replenished.  

I have thalassemia minor and my doctor said to consume less iron...

Patients with Thalassemia are at risk for iron build up when iron exceeds physiological level. 

However, if iron deficient, these patients will still need to top up their iron to a safe level, for the proper functioning of the heart, lungs, brain and other organs.

How to diagnose iron deficiency

Ask to check your serum ferritin at your next check-up. 

Serum ferritin is a marker of the iron stores in your body. When the blood concentration falls below 30ng/mL you no longer have enough iron in your body and are probably experiencing many of the symptoms of iron deficiency.

Ferritin above 100ng/mL is what I would consider a good number.

My blood tests are normal...

My experience with labs is their ranges are too huge and patients already begin to see changes in their health before an extreme case is reached and the lab test shows you a red mark.

You need someone experienced in the interpretation of micronutrient tests to be able to work out what's going on in your body, and everything is connected. 

Iron, Zinc, Vitamin C status have to be assessed together. 

As an integrative and functional medicine doctor, conventional lab Normal doesn't necessarily mean all is clear. 

Women are at high risk

Women are most at risk of iron deficiency due to regular menses. For every 1mL of blood that is lost we lose 0.5mg iron. Over a year, a woman with heavy menses can have annual losses exceeding 500mg iron. If you consider that most women only have about 3,000mg or iron in their body it is easy to understand why so many are at risk of iron deficiency.

To make things worse, during pregnancy a growing baby will require about 1,000mg of iron from the mother. As 40% of women enter pregnancy in an iron deficient state too many will deliver in a highly iron deficient state. Consequences extist for mother and baby (risk of post-partum depression, low birth weight etc.).

How to increase iron levels in the body?

Humans cannot make iron so we are 100% reliant on our diet. Iron is best absorbed from red meat, fish, seafood and chicken. Whilst many vegetables have high iron content our bodies cannot absorb this phyto-form of iron nearly as well.

1kg of spinach = 200g of fish = 1mg of iron

In a deficiency state one needs 500-1000mg of elemental iron to make a difference to symptoms.

The problem with iron tablets

You will only absorb 10% of the iron in a tablet.  And will need to take them for 6-12 months to replete your stores if you are deficient.

Many forms of oral iron tablets are available, BUT they can cause gastrointestinal issues including diarrhoea, constipation or nausea. It is probably not worth taking iron within a multi-vitamin pack as the iron content is very low and amount absorbed not sufficient to do much.

The game changer:  Iron infusions

Intravenous iron is an extremely safe, fast and clean option for many of my patients, even during pregnancy.

The iron infusions I arrange give 500mg of pure elemental iron safely in a drip, within 15 minutes.  

Clinical data continues to grow and demonstrates that IV iron offers a rapid correction of iron deficiency with just 1 or 2 injections plus symptomatic relief in a matter of days. Improvements in exercise performance as well as overall general well-being are often observed. 

Book a consult to discuss IV iron with me.