Gut Health

Did you know there are up to 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi living inside your gut? That's 10 000 times the number of humans on the planet! What's more - these creatures play a crucial role in regulating nearly every aspect of your health, including your immune system, your hormones, your bile (needed to digest food) and even your mental health. It's no wonder the gut is now called the second brain!

However! All these creatures need the right food to function properly and to keep the bad guys at bay.

Here's what you can do.

1. Embrace Plant Diversity: Research shows that consuming 30 or more different plants weekly can significantly enhance the diversity of your gut microbiome. That's because different bacteria eat different foods! But don't worry - it's not just fruits and vegetables that count – spices, herbs, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains are also included. Why not keep a count of the number of ingredients you eat each meal, and think about ways you can creatively add extra ingredients, such as drinking herbal teas, and adding fresh herbs and seeds to a salad.

2. The Power of Fibre: Fibre-rich foods are essential for maintaining a happy and healthy gut microbiome. Different types of fibre act as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, promote regular bowel movements, stabilise blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol. Incorporating high-fibre alternatives into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and mushrooms, can significantly improve gut health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

3. Harness the Benefits of Fermented Foods: Adding fermented foods to your diet can boost the diversity of bacteria in your gut and promote the growth of beneficial microbes. Probiotics found in fermented foods enhance immune function, support digestion, and contribute to overall gut health. Start by incorporating kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, and plain yoghurt with live cultures (check the label) into your daily meals. However, please note that if these products are not refrigerated, they should have a use-by date of three months or less! If not, they do not have any live bacteria in them. If you can't find any real fermented foods at your local market or health food store, it's best to make your own.

4. Unlock the Power of Prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible fibres found in certain foods that nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut. By consuming prebiotic-rich foods like garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, green bananas, oats, and even potatoes which have been boiled and chilled, you provide essential nutrients for the growth and proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria. Check out this complete list of foods containing prebiotics.

5. Limit Ultra-Processed Foods (UPFs): Reducing, or even better, eliminating the consumption of ultra-processed foods is very important for gut health and overall well-being. UPFs often contain artificial ingredients, unhealthy fats, refined sugar, and excessive salt, all of which can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and increase the risk of various health conditions. So it's far better to eat whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible to nourish your gut and support long-term health.

6. Add Vibrant Polyphenols to Your Plate: Polyphenols, found in colorful fruits, vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, extra virgin olive oil, dark chocolate, nuts, and coffee, offer numerous health benefits, including antioxidant properties and gut health support. So try to 'eat the rainbow', getting as many different colours on your plate as you can, and protect yourself against chronic disease.

It can be helpful to think of your gut as one huge family that you are responsible for feeding well. Just think - what you eat can mean life or death for billions!

If you'd like to make changes to your diet, but would like some extra support, Nicola offers a free 30 minute consultation to help get you started, or simply to provide you with helpful tips on any of the above.