5 Ways To Supercharge Your Gut
Author: Nicole Saliba, Accredited Practising Dietitian Date Posted:14 August 2020
FIVE WAYS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR GUT
Did you know that your large intestine is home to trillions of microbes which play an important role when it comes to your health? The health of your gut has been linked to the immune system, weight management, chronic disease, sleep and even mood! Taking care of your gut health and eating well to feed your microbes is one way to boost your health and protect you from a wide range of health conditions.
There are roughly 100 trillion of these cells in your gut which are affected by a wide range of things including:
- Your mother's gut microbiome
- How you were born e.g. c-section vs vaginal delivery
- Medications such as antibotics
More and more research is beginning to show how our diet plays a significant role in shaping the microbiome and therefore either increasing or decreasing our risk of disease. In fact experiments now show that a change in our diet can cause huge shifts in our gut microbiota within 24 hours! Maintaining a healthy gut and choosing foods that support the growth of good bacteria and reduce the likelihood of increasing bad bacteria is essential for overall well being and vitality.
Here are our top five tips for boosting your gut health
1/ Aim for 30 different plants per week: One of the biggest predictors of a healthy gut microbiome is plant diversity. The more diverse your diet is, the more diverse the range of bugs inhabiting your gut become, and this is a good thing. Aim for 30 different types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole-grains and legumes per week.
2/ Aim for 30g of fibre as a minimum per day: Fibre is basically the parts of plants that we are unable to digest or break down. They stay intact until they get the very end of your gut or large bowel and this is where the majority of your gut microbes live. It is here that fibre acts as a food source and feeds your gut microbes! Not getting enough fibre reduces the number and diversity of microbes in your gut. When we don’t feed our microbes they start to eat the protective layer lining our gut making our immune system compromised.
3/ Reduce your intake of alcohol, processed foods, red meat and processed meat: Processed, deep fried, low fibre and high sugar foods should be limited as they increase levels of harmful bacteria in the gut and reduce the variety of bacterial species in the gut causing an imbalance within a few days. High fat, high sugar and high meat diets have been linked to poor gut health. It is also important to take it easy on the alcohol as it can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiota.
4/ Include prebiotics:These are a special group of fibres that feedthe good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut. In essence, prebiotics are food for probiotics as they are important fuel sources for the healthy bacteria in our gut, helping them increase in numbers.
Inulin is a common prebiotic and it's naturally found in garlic, asparagus, onions, soybeans, leeks and artichokes. Other sources of prebiotic dietary fibres include fruit (banana and apples), konjac root (which low calorie “shirataki” or “slendier” noodles are made out of), beta-glucan found in oats, psyllium husk and wholegrain cereals such as barley, rye and wheat bran.
5/ Include fermented foods and foods rich in probiotics: Probiotics are live 'friendly' bacteria or microorganisms that help maintain a healthy gut by reducing the number of harmful bacteria and also produce specific substances that feed the cells lining the gut keeping them healthy and boost our immune function. There are many different strains that can be found in fermented foods. The most common types of probiotics are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli spp. Yoghurts, yakult, kefir (russian inspired fermented dairy drink), kimchi (korean inspired fermented vegetables and spices), tempeh, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and miso are all foods that are rich in probiotics. There are lots of new products on the market that have added probiotic strains such as kombucha and coconut yoghurts.
6.Include foods rich in polyphenols: Polyphenols are a large group of chemical compounds found in plants and many of them are antioxidants. Some sources of polyphenols such as those found in green and black tea can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, whilst others can stimulate the growth of beneficial microbiota.
Common foods with rich polyphenol content include fruits especially dark berries, vegetables, seeds such as flaxseed, nuts (e.g. chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts), olives and extra-virgin olive oil, vegetables, tea, cocoa products, wine, spices (e.g. cloves, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, circumin), dried herbs (e.g. peppermints, oregnao, thyme, basil, parsley), green tea, black tea.