Updated: Jun 7
Gut health is a relatively new area of nutrition research and we are only beginning to scratch the surface with it but we do know that our digestive system is our body’s second brain and extremely influential to our health, both physically and mentally. Our digestive system contains trillions of bacteria which play a role in our skin, weight, appetite, immune system, sleep (eczema), energy, arthritis, diabetes, heart and mental health. In fact, 70% of our immune system resides in our gut so if we aren’t taking care of it, our immune health will be significantly impacted.
The best way to maintain a healthy gut is to eat a large range of fresh, whole foods and ensure you get lots of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans and wholegrains into your diet as this keeps our gut microbiota diverse and healthy.
HOW MUCH FIBRE SHOULD I BE GETTING?
You have probably heard by now that fibre is so important when it comes to gut health, but the majority of the UK are still not getting adequate amounts. The daily recommended amount is 30g per day but most are only reaching half of this!
PREBIOTICS V.S PROBIOTICS
Prebiotics come from types of carbohydrates (mainly fibre) that humans can't digest but the gut bacteria can because fibre travels through your digestive system undigested and reaches the large intestine means that it reaches the community of trillions of microbes that look after us every day. Basically, fibre and prebiotics are the food and fuel for the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Foods that are high in prebiotic fibre are:
Legumes (chickpeas and beans)
Probiotics on the other hand are live microorganisms (beneficial bacteria) that have a huge amount of health benefits when consumed on your body and brain, including improved digestive health, reduced depressive symptoms and promoting heart health. You can get probiotics from fermented foods including:
NUTRITIONIST TOP TIP:
We recommend trying 30 different plant-based foods each week (this can also include herbs and spices) to increase the diversity and variety of your gut microbes and ensure all are happy- we want to feed them all not just one group. Some simple ways of reaching this target is to add different fruits and veg from your typical order (humans are creatures of habits!). Lastly, stress and sleep is also very important and plays a huge role in gut health so it is important to look at your lifestyle as well as your nutrition.