This Morning’s Dr Zoe on how to give your digestive system some TLC

While we all know the importance of looking after our skin and hair during the summer months, it turns out that caring for our insides is just as crucial – and it can be achieved at three specific points during the day which she terms our 'golden gut hours'.

“There are different golden gut hours throughout the day where you can really give your gut a helping hand if you make use of them consistently,” says media medic Dr Zoe Williams.

“For example, using the first hour of your day to boost your gut health is a good way to start the day, though there are other moments throughout the day that we can take advantage of.”

It may seem simple but making use of these so-called golden hours can bring a whole host of benefits.

“Bad gut health can cause abdominal symptoms like bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, constipation, tiredness,” explains Dr Zoe. “A healthy gut can impact just about every aspect of our health, including our immune system, skin and mood.”

From sunrise to sunset, Dr Zoe shares her top tips for keeping your gut healthy and happy…


Debate rages over whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but early refreshment is key for gut health.

“When you first wake up, say at 7am on a weekday, use that first hour to drink a big glass of water. Drinking water helps your gut function well and aids digestion by helping to break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients. It also helps prevent constipation,” says Dr Zoe.

We all need to drink about 11⁄2 to 2 litres of water a day, but our bodies can give telltale signs that we need extra hydration.

“You should see clear or pale straw yellow urine if you are adequately hydrated,” she adds.

And although it can be tempting to skip breakfast to cram in some extra shuteye, fuelling our body can get our guts ready for the hours ahead.

Dr Zoe says, “You can start the day off well with fermented foods like yoghurt. Eating this on an empty stomach will help it to reach the large intestine more quickly.”


Amid all the excitement of summertime activities, scheduling a proper lunchtime meal will keep our insides in check.

“Keep a regular lunchtime of 1-2pm to fill up on fibre and foods such as wholegrains and legumes, which are great for your gut. Not eating regularly can lead to a confused digestive system so try to eat meals at a similar time each day,” says Dr Zoe.

Research has found most adults eat 20g of fibre a day on average, but they should be aiming to eat 30g daily and from 30 different sources a week.

“We have this magic number of 30 plant points that we should be aiming for every week,” Dr Zoe explains.

“If you put red kidney beans in a meal, switching that for a tin of mixed beans helps you go from one to five plants. Also, supermarket bags of stir-fry mixes are amazing. If you throw them into a meal, you’ve already added around 10 extra plant points.”

However, fibre consumption needs to be increased cautiously. Slow and steady is the way forward. “Do it gradually because if you go from eating very little fibre to 30 grams, it’s a lot for your body to take and could cause symptoms such as abdominal pain,” she adds.


Attempting to sleep in 20°C-plus temperatures may leave you feeling hot and bothered, but warm nights are a lot more than a tiresome problem.

“In summer, people report getting less sleep or poorer quality of sleep,” says Dr Zoe. “It’s when we’re asleep that our gut microbiomes [collection of microbes] get to work and what they do is digest fibre and make important chemicals that are great for our health.”

She recommends eating two to three hours before going to bed to allow food to digest.

“The range of ‘good’ microbes in your gut have been linked to how well you sleep, and some researchers believe that improving your microbiome can also improve your sleep.”

“A lack of sleep directly impacts food choices and affects our hunger hormones and, therefore, our digestive system and gut health. It means you’re more likely to reach for processed carbs, sugar and unhealthy fats when you haven’t had a good sleep,” she explains.

Dr Zoe Williams is working with Activia, the gut health yoghurt brand, on their Gut Summer Ready campaign to encourage everyone to look after their wellbeing and support their gut health all year round.

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