As April approaches, spring cleaning is a task that many of us aim to tackle. However, there’s a much more important aspect of our lives that need a little spring cleaning from time to time: our minds and bodies.
The mind and body are deeply connected; if we neglect one or the other, it can lead to both physical and mental health problems. April is Stress Awareness Month and ahead of this, we’re hoping to help decrease stress by looking after our guts.
Award-winning nutritionist, Lucy Williamson, explains that stress is necessary. Stress can protect us by triggering our “Fight or Flight” responses, but it starts to become an issue when our minds and bodies are in this state for long periods of time. The gut tends to be where the stress hormone is released, which affects our gut health.
If you’re wondering how to address this problem, Lucy has tips for you to start improving your gut health. Many of these tips include simply slowing down your day. Whether that be with eating slower and enjoying your meals, taking regular breaks, and making time to exercise, each step can make progress towards a healthier body and mind.
As a guide, here are Lucy’s top tips for looking after your gut health:
- Work on your sleep quality – our body heals as it sleeps, and our gut health also thrives when we’re at rest.
- Aim to eat 30 different types of plants every week to nourish gut health and ensure a good intake of natural antioxidants – these micronutrients in plants nourish our gut bacteria and help with everyday natural detox too. This isn’t as hard as it may sound; the ’30 target’ includes herbs and spices, as well as fruit and veg – and here’s the good part, it even includes chocolate!
- Take time to enjoy food slowly and with good company. This gives our body time to digest properly. Even before we eat, our mouth is already starting to prepare our digestive system by producing saliva. A stressed gut is an unhappy gut.
- Taking regular breaks to reduce tension is great – a short meditation or a box breathing exercise can be really helpful – breathing more slowly and deeply greatly helps to relieve stress.
- Take regular exercise – just half an hour of brisk walking each day will help.
Taking the time to enjoy our food and eat it slowly is a wonderful, easy way to take care of our gut, and there are plenty of nourishing meals to help us consume the plants that are best for our bodies. From Lucy and Peterley Manor Farm, here’s a recipe for gut healthy chocolate fridge cake:
Makes about 16 slices
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes of chilling
8oz digestive biscuits
3oz chopped dates
8 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans
3oz caster sugar
6 tbsp cocoa powder
8tbsp whole milk
1 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
2oz puffed quinoa
1. Crush the digestive biscuits in a bag with a rolling pin.
2. In a blender, blend the dates, nuts and sugar to a fine powder.
3. In a pan over medium heat, melt together the butter, sugar/date/nut mix, cocoa powder, milk, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Add the crushed biscuits, oats and puffed quinoa into the melted mix.
5. Pat into a greased baking tray (23×23 or similar) to a 2cm thickness and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting.
If you’re spending a lot of time cleaning up the rooms around your house or decluttering your spaces, it could be a great idea to spend some time cleaning up your gut!
Looking for more gut-healthy recipe inspo? Check out our recipe for full-of-fibre fried “rice”, here.
- gut health
- top tips
- fridge cake
- food festival
- me auld flower
- dublin festival
- food and drink festival
- festival line-up
- Summer festival
- Festivals Ireland
- Body & Soul
- music festival
- summer events
- All Together Now
- Events Waterford
- Events Ireland
- events Dublin
- online cooking course