THE GUTS OF THE MATTER
By Brigid Chunn BSc Registered Nutritionist
Gut health is a hot topic at the moment and not without reason. In essence, gut microbiome, are a crucial component of our digestive systems. Scientific studies are shedding light on how our bodies are affected by our gut microbiome.
- Gut microbiomes are more than just bacteria. They are comprised of viruses, yeasts and fungi that are living in our digestive system. These microbiomes provide energy through short chain fatty acids produced while feasting on fibre
- Short chain fatty acids are essential for a robust immune system, as well as contributing to the balancing of blood sugar
- A healthy and diverse gut microbiome is linked to a reduction in inflammation, increased serotonin levels and a reduced risk of certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety and bowel disease
- There is research into how the microbiome affects our weight. This is still under investigation, however we do know a diverse gut bacteria is linked to lower weight
In short a healthy and well-maintained gut bacteria is essential to our wellbeing.
So the big question…. What should we be eating to ensure a healthy gut?
- Eating fibre from a variety of sources such as fruits and vegetables (think rainbow colours) starchy vegetables such as potatoes, legumes e.g. beans and lentils plus wholegrains such as barley and oats. These are all prebiotics which feed the good bacteria and encourage diversity
- Add in some probiotics i.e. living bacteria found in some yoghurts, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha. These are fermented foods. Note that when adding a probiotic supplement check it states the genus, species and strain of bacteria. With fermented foods claiming to be probiotic they should state the strain of beneficial bacteria, have the correct dosage (billions or more of colony forming units per dose and guarantee potency through to the expiry date) plus be produced and stored in a way to maintain the effectiveness of the bacteria
- Keep up exercise
- Water – drink it!
- Reduce the amounts of sugar, fats, processed foods and stress
Sounds pretty much like a recipe for life!