Creator profile image

Cara Wheatley-McGrain

77 answers

Cara Wheatley-McGrain is a Speaker, Author, Educator, Coach and Founder of The Mindful Gut. Cara is passionate about opening up the conversation around gut health, and it's links...

Select an answer to get started

Is there a breathing exercise that could help me?

There are many breathing exercises that can help you. So I would invite you to put one hand on your chest and one hand onto your lower belly. And what we're going to do is we're going to breathe into that lower hand. And what that's going to do is really support us to take our breath really deeply into our belly. This is a base belly breathing practise. So we're going to take three breaths together, just nice and slow. So inhale, and as you exhale and imagine that you're misting a mirror with your breath. So kind of a sigh outwardly. We'll take another deep breath, maybe go a little deeper. This time you might find your shoulders drop a little bit and that's good. You might want to keep breathing just for a few moments, and I'll just explain that What we've done now is we've dropped into our belly, and as we've done that, we've dropped into our parasympathetic nervous system, and that is our rest, digest, tend and befriend mode. And that's where we want to be when we are thinking about eating food or maybe when we're digesting food we've just eaten. And it's a lovely way of kind of really tuning into ourselves, getting out of our head, and really getting into our heart and our belly.

What is Gut Health?

Gut health is the study of our gut, our whole of our digestive tract, and it's also the study of the gut microbiome. So our digestive tract is around nine metres long. It starts once we eat food into our oesophagus, then our digestive tract continues through the stomach, then through the small intestine, which is woven around the centre of our body. And then it links into our large intestine, sometimes called the colon, which curves around our small in intestine and then comes down to the rectum. And this is where we poop from. So it's this nine metre long digestive tract. And if you imagine the colon is like a three-sided picture frame around that inner small intestine and the large intestine. The colon holds the largest bacterial population in the human body. Our gut microbiome and the gut microbiome is really quite a magical and mysterious set of bacteria that play a lot of important functions for our wellbeing and for our health.

How can I improve my gut health?

There are many ways that you can improve your gut health. If I was to give you a simple acronym, I would encourage you to think about the three Ps of good gut health. And these are probiotics, prebiotics, and polyphenols. So probiotics are about adding good bacteria into our gut microbiome, and there are simple ways that you can do that. You could take a probiotic pill or a probiotic drink, but I'd also really encourage you to eat probiotic foods. So these are about getting live bacteria into our gut. So we can eat fermented foods like live yoghourt, kimchi, cafe, sauerkraut, and these are all delicious and simple ways of increasing the number of bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are a little bit like fertilisers for those live bacteria. So prebiotics are high fibre foods. So when you think about prebiotics, you can have apples, bananas, oats, legumes are great prebiotic as well. So these are beans like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, otti beans, these all great forms of fibre for your gut bacteria. And then the final P polyphenols. Polyphenols create an antioxidant environment in the gut. And simple food sources for polyphenols are things like green and black tea berries, so strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and also good news. Dark chocolate is a great polyphenol rich source of food.

What are the signs of a healthy gut?

What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?