Gut health is definitely the new black! We are increasingly becoming more and more surprised with the realisation that what is going on within the gut, is important to more aspects of our health than we initially thought. We now know the billions of friendly bacteria in the gut (also referred to as: gut microbiome, gut microbiota or gut flora), are involved in so many bodily functions. From improving immunity to reducing inflammation to assisting in metabolic process, there seems to be boundless benefits to good gut health! So how do we optimise our gut health?
Here are 5 top tips for your overall gut health:
1. Promote your gut with probiotic’s
Good news reporting the positive impacts of probiotics continue to pile up! Latest research has indicated the benefits of probiotics are endless — from promoting overall gut health by encouraging the growth and diversity of friendly bacteria; to reducing gut complications and enhancing immunity. More reading on probiotics.
Top tip: Incorporate a source of probiotics into your every day diet. Try yoghurt with live-cultures, miso, tempeh, kefirs, tamari, kimchi, kombucha or a scientifically approved supplement.
2. Eat foods rich in prebiotics
As we learn more and more about gut health, the more and more we are discovering about the beneficial effects of prebiotics. Prebiotics are the natural non-digestible component of fibre that encourages the growth and health of friendly bacteria, by providing them with fuel. Prebiotic’s are also believed to help tackle digestive problems including: diarrhoea, irritable bowel disease and constipation.
Top tip: Incorporate prebiotics into your daily diet by consuming a range of foods including: bananas, garlic, artichokes, onions, asparagus, sweet potato and apples.
3. Eat more fibre
Making sure you are eating a diet full of fibre has endless benefits to your overall gut health. High fibre diets are known to reduce constipation, promote the growth of friendly bacteria along with assisting in stabilising blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Top tip: To achieve the recommended 25-30g per day, aim to include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, nuts and seeds into your everyday diet.
4. Stress less
Definitely easier said than done. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our overall physical and mental health. What we are also learning more and more is the complex relationship between stress and gut health! New research has suggested that our gut is vulnerable to our stress levels impacting gut motility and the diversity of friendly bacteria.
Top tip: Try to relax with yoga, a long bath, or a walk with friends. More reading on stress.
5. Drink plenty of fluids
Making sure you are hydrated is key for maintaining regular bowel movements, preventing constipation and promoting overall gut health. How do you know if you are hydrated you ask? Look at the colour of your urine. Dark urine can be an indicator of de-hydration and colourless urine may be an indicator of over-hydration. Try to aim for a transparent yellow coloured urine.
Top tip: Try to always carry a water bottle with you, drink water with every meal and make an extra effort to drink when exercising. More reading on hydration.
Gut Microbiota Research and Practice, 2017, ‘Year at a Glance: A selection of content from the Gut Microbiota for Health 2016’.
Bischoff, S.C, 2011, ‘Gut Health: a new objective in medicine?’, BMC Medicine, 9(24), 1-14
Popkin, B.M, D’Anci, K.E & Rosenberg I.H, 2011, ‘ Water, hydration and health’, Nutr Rev, 68)8), 439-458
Suarez, K, 2010, ‘Psychological Stress and Self-Reported Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders’, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198(3), 226-229
Konturek P.C, Brzozowski, T & Konturek S.J, 2011, ‘Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences and diagnostic approach and treatment options’, J Physiol Pharmacol, 62(6), 591-599