Keeping Cork Healthy: Mind your gut health

10th November 2020

The Mardyke Arena UCC is teaming up with the Echo during this lockdown period to give readers weekly tips on how to stay fit and healthy. In this edition, tips on gut health and how to ensure you get a good night’s sleep

Mind your gut and your gut will mind you

GUT microbiome consists of the collective genome of microbes inhabiting the gut, including bacteria, viruses, etc, in your digestive tract. Your gut health affects your whole body, including your immune health, writes Nutritional Consultant, Mary Carmody.

Here’s eight tips on how to improve your gut health:

  1. Avoid eating on the run or when rushing! Remember, digestion begins in the mouth, so avoid being on-the-go when you eat your meals and snacks. Remember, your gut has no teeth, so please chew up your foods well in your mouth before swallowing.
  2. Make sure to eat mindfully. Focus on your meal and eat at a table and not at your work desk or in front of the television. It is important to take a break to eat mindfully and prioritise eating your meals and snacks for good health.
  3. Do not ignore food sensitivities or intolerances. Since Covid began, I am getting more and more calls and emails about digestive issues and rashes. Bloating, indigestion, skin issues and even changes in your mood can be signs that your body is not coping well with certain foods. If you suspect you have issues with a food, you could look at doing a food intolerance test or try keeping a food diary to see if any ingredients eaten in the past 72 hours are not agreeing with you. See my website details for intolerance testing,
  4. Sleep is so important for the gut. A good night’s sleep will enable your gut to repair itself, as well as regulating hormone and neurotransmitter production. Aim for at least seven hours a night and try to create a regular bedtime routine and stick to it. Reading or having a bath or just chilling out with no devices (phone, iPads, etc.) for an hour before going to bed is hugely beneficial. This will support your natural circadian rhythm.
  5. Limit your intake of sugar. Sugar affects mood and will alter the balance of your gut microbiome, which is essential for good health. Read labels carefully, reduce any added sugars and try to make simple healthy snacks yourself where possible. See my You Tube Channel for simple snacks in minutes —
  6. Include probiotic rich foods. These boost the immune system. Examples live dairy yoghurt e.g. Glenisk, look at your labels for bifidobacterial and lactobacilli. Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir and kombucha are all good for gut health.
  7. Look at the link between gut bacteria and obesity. Following a healthy diet and managing your weight by eating real natural foods and managing portion sizes is so important. You can also look at the link between gut bacteria and your brain, research has shown how having a healthy balance of good bacteria can guard against anxiety, depression and chronic pain, so it’s important to eat a good diet.
  8. Finally remember, Prebiotics. These are the foods that feed the probiotics so include fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, etc, in your diet.


For more see


The importance of sleep

We spend on average a third of our lives asleep. Not having adequate sleep can wreak havoc in daily routines and it is recommended to have eight hours per night in order to reap the benefits for both body and brain, writes Jeff Gomez, High Performance Manager at the Mardyke Arena UCC / UCC Sport.

Sleep can be broken down into various stages and we experience 3 to 4 cycles of these stages each nights:

Onset of sleep: quite short (1 to 7 min), this is the transition from wakefulness to slumber.

Light sleep: this is a preparatory sleep phase lasting from 10 to 25 min and is marked by a decrease in heart rate and temperature.

Deep sleep: this stage allows for the body to produce growth hormones. Deep sleep gives the brain a chance to restore itself. In a nutshell, this stage impacts directly on how refreshed you feel in the morning.

REM stage: usually begins around 90 min after falling asleep. This is characterised by rapid eye movements (REM) and is the part of the sleep cycle associated with dreaming. Lack of REM sleep will directly impact on concentration and memory.

Overall, a deficit of sleep will affect cognition and the ability to make coherent decisions.

Countless studies now link reduced duration and poorer quality of sleep as risk factors for the development of obesity. So, how do we go about improving sleep quality in order to capitalize on the hidden third of your life?

Create a tech free-environment: research shows that blue lights coming from electronic devices will disturb melatonin production, the essential hormone for producing sleep. Try to cut off TV/social media scrolling before bed time and minimise your contact with digital devices up to 2 hours before bed.

Minimise caffeine and.or alcoholic contents: studies are showing that more than 2 glasses of wine before bedtime can drastically decrease your deep wave stage by up to 50%

Keep your bedroom temperature around 19 – 21C.

Exercise: there are countless benefits to exercise but in this case it will make it easier for your brain to power down at night.

Keep a routine: as much as possible stick to the same bedtime. A study in 2011 indicated that consistent bedtime and wake time had a direct impact on quality of sleep.

Darken the room completely to allow for the melatonin to be released (this hormone primes you to sleep).

Use relaxation techniques: researchers believe insomnia can be linked to stress and emotions. Meditation, journaling, breathing exercises are proven methods to help you find a more restful sleep.

Power nap: a restorative 10 to 20 min nap during the day can be extremely beneficial to the brain and the body.

Having increased and better quality sleep will impact on your overall health and ability to think straight! A good night’s sleep is the most powerful elixir of health and wellbeing.


Mardyke’s Physiotherapy Clinic remains open as an essential service

The arena clinic based at the Mardyke Arena UCC, a centre already recognised for excellence in its facilities, will remain open during this period as their physiotherapy services are deemed an essential health service.

The clinic will continue to operate under Government and HSE guidelines.

The arena clinic is unique, incorporating physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and specialist rehabilitation. To book an appointment contact the arena clinic at 021 490 4760 or visit to book online.


Join in with Free Fitness Classes Online

The Mardyke Arena UCC are running Free Fitness Classes Online via their YouTube Channel – Click Here.

New classes will be added each morning (Mon-Fri) at 7am and available for you to do in your own time.

This week’s schedule:

  • Monday: HIIT
  • Tuesday: Legs, Bums & Tums
  • Tuesday: EYL Circuits (Energise Your Life Over 55s Class)
  • Wednesday: Pilates
  • Thursday: Total Tone
  • Thursday: EYL Pilates (Energise Your Life Over 55s Class)
  • Friday: HIIT


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