Gut Health: Three ways consumers can make healthier decisions and stick to them
The brain is a powerful decision-making tool. When it comes to matters of the gut, our brains influence how we think and feel, as well as what food we’re likely to crave. Those signals are intrinsically linked to the Enteric Nervous System (‘ENS’). Consisting of approximately 500 million neurons, the ENS serves as a ‘second brain’ and can either act independently or work with the Central Nervous System (‘CNS’) to emphasise those shifts in emotion.
The communication between the enteric and central nervous systems is more commonly known in science as the ‘gut-brain axis’. Disrupting the gut-brain axis can result in major changes to the gut-microbiota. For example, in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (‘IBS’) sufferers, certain foods and ingredients which cause gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and bloating can easily trigger an emotional shift in the ENS, resulting in significant mood changes.
When shopping, consumers are particularly sensitive to impulse buying. A discounted multipack or a special offer are placed at eye level to persuade them to try something new. Consumers are easily swayed if their second brain is influencing them to pick up that sugary snack.
So, when the second brain is acting on its own accord, how can we ensure consumers stay on track? Below are a few tips to help them make the right decisions for their gut and, better yet, stick to them.
Start small, think regular
The gut is incredibly sensitive to change. A larger meal than usual, coffee before breakfast, and a rough night’s sleep can all take its toll on the gut. Routine is essential to keeping the gut-brain axis in a state of equilibrium. There are many small, everyday things that can be worked into a routine each morning without disrupting the natural circadian rhythm.
Top Tip: Drink a glass of water on waking
The body and digestive system depend on water. Drinking water every morning regulates the bowel, rehydrating and flushing out the bad toxins from the prior day. Water with lemon is even better for the gut as it contains pectin, a prebiotic that feeds good bacteria.
Incorporating small things such as sitting down for breakfast without focusing on another task can signal to the body that it’s time for digestion. With more pressing demands taking up our time, it can be an easy choice to skip breakfast, or eat on the go, but doing so will upset the gut-brain axis, leading to sugary food cravings, caffeine and more.
Feel fuller for longer
One of the best ways to help limit those sugary cravings is to introduce a prebiotic or dietary fibre into your diet. These non-digestible food ingredients can be found in garlic, onions, bananas, barley, oats, apples and more, helping to support probiotic foods such as yoghurts, soft cheeses and sourdough work through the system and increase healthy gut bacteria.
But to gain the effects of prebiotics, the body needs to consume large volumes every day, which is something that even avid health experts are unlikely to follow as a consistent regime. Instead of eating copious amounts of bananas or raw garlic to feed the gut, prebiotic supplements – such as SlimBiome® from OptiBiotix – are a much easier solution.
To help consumers feel fuller for longer and resist the temptation of unhealthy snacks and highly processed foods, SlimBiome stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract and enhances the body’s use of insulin to metabolise carbohydrate and fat. Backed by scientific research and independent studies, SlimBiome reduced calorie intake by up to 20%, lowering food cravings and significantly improving the consumer’s mood.
The beauty of prebiotic ingredients, like SlimBiome, is that they can be added into multiple products for human nutrition. Yoghurts, bakery products, cereal bars, and cheeses are perfect applications for prebiotics and can easily be incorporated into a healthy consumer diet. With gut health and plant-based diets a continuing trend for this year, incorporating prebiotic ingredients into nutritional products is a clear benefit to retailers, distributors and suppliers.
When routine and consistency is vital to gut health, sugar-intensive snacks or foods with highly complex food chains that are difficult to break down in the gut should typically be avoided. But there’s no harm in reaching for a treat every now and then.
Top Tip: Don’t rely on willpower alone
Restricting intake of foods high in sugar and salt doesn’t mean avoiding them all together. Willpower only goes so far after all. Consumers can opt for a treat while maintaining a healthy balanced diet without causing too much upset to their microbiome. Everything in moderation!
Weight management plans that allow the individual to indulge on occasion means consumers are more likely to maintain their healthy gut regime when there’s a little give and take. The key ingredient is to ensure they are listening to what their body needs: rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.