How To Improve Your Gut Health With the Four R’s

27 May 19

Dr Amy Carmichael
MBChB, MRCP, Functional Medical Doctor
Author of Be Unumbered
Gut health expert

We have all been there, you are doing your best to eat healthy(ish), you are trying to say no to all those sugary pick-me-up treats (surely one little sneaky croissant won't hurt with morning coffee) but the daily grind of life has still got you tired, stressed, time poor and cutting corners on those decisions that keep you and your families health on track!

You are dismissing the warning signs of tiredness, skin complaints, or moods as having nothing to do with what lifestyle is being lived and what effect that is having on your overall health? But did you know all of these warning signs can be linked back to your gut and digestion ?

Our gastrointestinal tract, or gut is sometimes described as our “second brain”, it is controlled by it’s own complex nervous system, comprised of hundreds of millions of neurons. The gut and the brain talk to each other through nerve signals, hormones and other pathways referred to as the gut-brain-axis that are influenced by the good and bad bacteria that inhabit our digestive tract.

Everyone’s gut is full of bacteria that can be good, bad or indifferent, they hang out all the way from the mouth through to the end of the bowl, these microbes or bacteria talk to the nervous system through chemical pathways, including the immune system that keeps them in check. New studies are being released that show an imbalance of the good vs bad bacteria can affect brain function and in some cases may lead to anxiety or depression. Treating the brain is a lot harder to do than treating your gut so by altering our gut bacteria you can easily improve your overall health.

Thankfully regardless of the health problem you may be experiencing there is a well recognised approach called the Four R’s to help get your gut health back on track now, ideally designed around individual needs this framework works! Although there are specific points which you would need a health practitioner to offer guidance and testing, there is also ALOT you can start right now doing!


∙ Avoid processed, high sugar food and animal products as these can alter the growth of healthy bacteria and affecting glucose metabolism.
∙ Have a low tox home, think organic foods with no pesticides and insecticides
∙ Avoid unnecessary antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs. which can affect the diversity of your gut flora.
∙ Avoid gluten containing grains as they contain gliadin which contributes to a leaky gut.
∙ Work with a holistic practitioner to see if there are any allergic foods , or bad bacteria residing

As a first step this can be the hardest but the most rewarding.


∙ Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables - A 2014 study found that vegetables, grains, and beans fed a positive gut environment. But meat, junk food, dairy, and eggs fed a negative gut environment.

∙ Replenish your digestive enzymes


∙ Introduce good bacteria though a variety of foods containing probiotics - yogurt, tempeh, kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi.

∙ Eat prebiotic foods - which feed healthy bacteria, They are the non-digestible part of foods like bananas, onions and garlic, leeks, asparagus, oats, Jerusalem artichoke, the skin of apples, chicory root, beans, and many others.

∙ Eat plenty of fibre - Diets low in fibre show a reduction in the mucous layer of our guts, yet when we eat high fibre diets we have lots of MACS - microbiota accessible carbohydrates this fiber travels through your small intestine without being broken down and reaches your colon where good bacteria feed. The end product is short chain fatty acids ( SFCAs) help lower the ph of the intestines inhibiting the growth of pathogenic( bad) bacteria. You can get fibre from apples, legumes, pulses, whole grains, raspberries, pears.


∙ Manage your stress - Have daily movement and relaxation, your body goes into a peaceful parasympathetic nervous state and this is when you rejuvenate

∙ Increase the intake of phytonutrients through green tea, vegetables, fruit and dried spices, as they can reduce the inflammatory burden.

∙ Eat good fats these reduce inflammation and promote the growth of healthy bacteria. They are also necessary in order for your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and now proven to help weight loss. Sources are nuts, avocado and good quality coconut yoghurts like COYO.

So are you ready to get super healthy and look after your gut?

Let us know your experiences we would love to hear from you, and if you want more facts check out my instagram at @_dr_amy or you can tune into my program on COYO's I.G T.V @coyo_organic for plant based gut health Q&A coming soon...