Get your Gut into Gear with our 2024 Gut Health Calendar!
It’s that time of year again when many of us set resolutions to set ourselves up for success in the year to come. Like many, your resolutions may involve vowing to eat healthier this year and perhaps prioritising your gut health. While intention is wonderful and it’s the first step to better health, do you have an action plan in place? Our well-intentioned goals sometimes don’t make it past the first month, but this isn’t due to a lack of willpower but rather a lack of plan to help you put your goals into action. So, instead of holding yourself to ambiguous goals, let us help you create your 2024 action plan to pave the way to better gut health this year for a healthier and happier you! By this time next year, your gut bugs will be thriving!
January – Fibre 
It’s no secret that our gut bugs love fibre! To start off the year strong, aim to reach your daily fibre intake (25g for women, 30g for men) to provide your gut microbiota with fuel. To do so, aim to choose whole grains over refined grains and incorporate legumes such as beans and lentils to help you up your fibre intake this year. You can also download our fibre counter to help you!
Tip: Increase your fibre intake slowly, as a big increase in a short amount of time may lead to unwanted gut symptoms.
February – Hydration 
Are you someone that forgets to drink water throughout the day? Dehydration can contribute to constipation and other gut symptoms. Aim for 30ml per kg of bodyweight each day this month. You may want to try carrying a water bottle with you or using a hydration app to help you develop the habit of drinking more.
March – Movement 
Aim to exercise for 30 minutes daily. Setting an achievable and realistic goal will look different for everyone! Consider the amount of activity you currently do and work your way up from there. The best type of movement is the kind you will enjoy and stick to. Remember, even short bursts of physical activity can be beneficial! If you suffer from constipation, movement can help get things moving along as well.
April – Eat more plants 
Check your basics this month: are you including 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables a day? Unfortunately, the vast majority of us are not. This month, try different methods of preparing fruit and veg to find ways you enjoy them. This may include having fruit in a smoothie, roasting veg with extra virgin olive oil and herbs, or finding new salad recipes to enjoy! Tip: 1 serve of fruit is 1 medium fruit like a banana or 2 small fruits like kiwis and 1 serve of vegetables is 1/2 cup cooked veg or 1 cup raw veg.
May - Plant diversity 
One of the best things you can do for your gut health is to include a wide variety of plants such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Including a range of different plants provides a range of different nutrients for our gut bugs to feed on. Research has shown that individuals who have more than 30 different types of plants a week have a more diverse gut microbiota. Use our 30 plants checklist to help you!
June – Sleep 
Sleep is an often over-looked cornerstone of maintaining optimal health, including our gut health. Research has found that increased gut microbiota diversity is associated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time, and growing research indicates that the gut microbiota can influence our circadian rhythm. In fact, the gut microbiome has a sleep-wake cycle of it’s own. When you’re sleeping, a complex called the migrating motor complex “sweeps” waste and microbes from your stomach and small intestine and into the large intestine. If you're not getting enough sleep, this process can be disrupted. To improve your sleep, be mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake. Research has shown that even one cup of coffee can increase the time it takes to get to sleep and decrease total sleep time and alcohol can also affect our body’s natural sleep patterns. You can also try incorporating a wind-down routine and avoiding screens to help you relax before bed.
July- Alcohol reduction 
Alcohol is a gut irritant and may contribute to gut symptoms along with dehydrating us. In the long-term, excessive consumption can increase the risk of some cancers, contribute to weight gain, and lead to other complications. We recommend no more than 10 drinks in a week and no more than 4 drinks on any one occasion, but you may wish you set a limit less than this, particularly if you are looking to manage your weight this year. Try limiting alcohol to the weekends and setting a limit for the number of drinks you will have before you go out.
August - Gut-directed yoga 
Got tummy troubles? Yoga is not only a wonderful form of physical activity and mental health activity, but it can also help to calm the digestive system through the gut-brain axis and may be particularly helpful for those who suffer from IBS. Check out our Gut-Directed Yoga Flow resource to help guide you through the different poses and give it a try regularly this month.
September - Gut-directed massage 
Gut-directed massages may help relieve constipation, diarrhoea and general gut discomfort/pain by improving motility. Simply use moisturiser/cream on your fingertips and form the letter I by stroking from your right hip to under your right rib cage (10x). Then, form the letter L up your right hip and across to the left ribcage (10x). Finally, form the letter U, up from the right hip, across to the left ribcage and down to the left hip (10x). Try this massage daily (ideally avoiding after mealtimes) for gut health relief!
October -Timing of eating 
What does your pattern of eating look like throughout the day? Are you typically having one large meal in the evening or skipping meals all together because you’re grazing on snacks throughout the day? Large portions can trigger reflux and bloating, and not to mention can lead to unwanted weight gain. Try spreading your meals out evenly throughout the day and having your last meal earlier in the evening. Your timing of eating can also be beneficial for exercise performance. If you’re active, spreading out your protein intake can be beneficial for optimising muscle protein synthesis and keeping you satiated. Timing your carbohydrates to provide fuel for your exercise and scaling them as needed can also support performance. Review what your pattern of eating looks like this month and makes changes as needed!
November – Add resistant starch 
Resistant starch reaches our large intestine where our gut microbiota then feed on it to produce short chain fatty acids which promote a healthy colon among other health benefits. Foods high in resistant starch include green bananas, cooked then cooled potato or rice, lentils, and peas. Try to include more of these foods in your diet this month!
December – Mindful eating 
While it seems far away now, the holiday season will be upon us again in no time. To finish the year off strong with your well-established habits, try practising mindful eating to help you navigate the festive period. Eating mindfully means being in the present moment with full awareness. Use your hunger and fullness cues to guide your eating habits and avoid eating past the point of fullness and unwanted gut symptom such as bloating. This way, even during the holidays, you can enjoy all foods in moderation without undoing all the hard work you put in this year!
A Final Word
Using this gut health calendar can help you get your gut into gear for 2024! Breaking down your goals into achievable steps can help you make sustainable and realistic changes to better your health and set you and your gut microbes up for success this year.
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