Stomach discomfort

You Are What Your Gut Absorbs

Good health starts in the gut. We now know that about 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. So, to improve our whole health, we must pay attention to our gut and more importantly the little critters called the microbiome that live there.

The microbiome consists of trillions of friendly gut bacteria in our digestive tract which not only ward off bad bacteria and viruses, but also effect every part of the body including your hormones, mood, and sleep.

If your gut is impaired, you will not be able to digest food easily and more importantly, you will not be able to extract the nutrients from the food you eat. Since we are what we absorb from our food, even if you have a healthy diet, if your gut is impaired then you won’t reap the benefits from your diet.

Diversity is key

Our gut bacteria produce many hormones and vitamins for every organ in the body, including the brain. Since our gut bacteria is dependent on what we feed it, we have the power to improve it and make it flourish. There are different types of bacteria with different functions, so to ensure that we feed each one and give them what they need to survive and thrive, we need to focus on diversity when eating to include whole foods such as fruits and veggies.

Aiming for 30 different plant-based foods every week will help to ensure you are getting the diversity of nutrients your gut and body needs. This includes fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. Also think about eating a rainbow of plant foods, different colours in plant foods are known as phytonutrients. The more colours you eat, the wider range of these powerful nutrients you’ll be getting.

Prebiotics

Food’s rich in prebiotics are also important to include in your diet as these act like fertilisers and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria. They’re dietary fibers that feed the good bacteria and help reinoculate your microbiome. For this reason, they are particularly good to take after a period of illness or if you have recently taken antibiotics.

Prebiotic rich foods include onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas and legumes.

Beyond plant foods

Other ways to increase the number and diversity of good bacteria in your gut is to regularly consume fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and beverages such as kefir and kombucha. These all have live cultures that help break down foods and improve your immune system and overall health.

If you’re not used to fermented foods, start slow and build up to larger amounts as consuming too much from the start can cause digestive upset.

The gut-brain connection

Whether we pay attention to them or not, we all get those ‘gut feelings’, an instinct that we can’t explain. As research into the microbiome continues, studies show the connection between the gut and brain is real and paramount to our psychological wellbeing.

A healthy gut can buffer us against stress and anxiety. With this understanding, new approaches can be used to prevent and treat stress-related disorders.

Is your gut happy?

Our gut is always communicating with us, we only have to pay attention to understand what it is trying to tell us. The most obvious signs that something isn’t right are gut symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, acid reflux or food intolerances.

However, these aren’t the only signs to determine if your microbiome needs an upgrade. As mentioned, your gut microbiome effects almost every system of your body. So, if you are always catching colds or bugs, or if you suffer with insomnia or struggle with your mental health, then these are also signs to start paying attention to your diet and start nurturing your microbiome.

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