Updated: May 21, 2020
The huge impact that gut health has on our overall wellbeing is finally getting the recognition that it rightfully deserves, and we could not be happier! *cue celebratory jig*. Your gut is home to approximately one hundred TRILLION microbes (cozy eh?), A.K.A the friendliest bunch of bacteria you ever did have the pleasure of hosting. These fellas are experts when it comes to metabolising nutrients and maintaining a healthy immune system, and recent research has suggested they may also be key contributors in the prevention and management of a multitude of diseases, including metabolic disorders like diabetes and mental health issues like anxiety and depression...
...so what the heck are we waiting for? Let’s talk about how we can treat our tums to a whole lotta TLC.
Fill up on fibre
Dietary fibre is the ultimate Scooby snack for your gut microbiota – they LOVE it. They will feast upon this stuff to expand their family and carry out their important roles. The best kind of dietary fibres can be found in plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses and wholegrains. By having a diet high in a wide variety of these foods, you would be doing your gut microbiota a solid. It's currently recommended that we should be eating around 30g a day of the stuff. Here’s a rough idea of what that amount of fibre might look like…
Food total fibre content 30g wholegrain breakfast cereal 4.5g 2 slices wholemeal bread 4.5g 1 apple (with skin) and 1 orange 5.5g 150g Crafty Pickle sauerkraut 😉 5.9g ½ can baked beans 7g
It’s a balancing act…
Yep – balance and variety. We’ve all heard this one on countless occasions! It also rings true when taking care of your gut. Basically, eating too much of any one type of food (or food groups) can impact on your gut bugs in a bad way. These fellas LOVE variety which means eating a wide range of different types of foods. If you’re like a lot of people and have the same breakfast or lunch every single day then branching out and trying something new can be soo beneficial. But don’t fret, we don’t just mean eat one of every fruit each day! We are big believers in having a balanced diet so it’s totally ok to delve into the cookie jar or get your favourite take out (cough cough….AJ’s pizza, if you live in Aberdeen you’ll understand) every now and then when the crave hits! And shoot, if you want to give your pizza a tongue tickling hit, try tossing some kimchi on it!
Say no to unnecessary antibiotics!
This is a BIG one. Antibiotics are like bacteria-bulldozers, their mission is to effectively wipe out unfriendly bacteria but in doing so they can also take down many of our good ones too. Our friendly gut bacteria are very clever and for the most part will recover, but unnecessary regular use of antibiotics may cause permanent damage to certain bacteria families, whilst also increasing the risk of making that antibiotic useless next time you really need it! In short, a general rule of thumb is only use antibiotics under Dr’s orders if you have a bacterial infection but avoid them when you have a minor viral infection - your body’s immune system will triumph these by itself given some time and rest!
Hello healthy habits
Finally, alongside the tips above, practicing general healthy habits is a huge win for internal happiness. If you can tick off regular physical activity, quality nightly zee’s, drinking plenty of fluids (predominantly not of the alcohol variety, SORRY), avoiding smoking and taking the time to relax and recharge from your daily list, you are well on your way to having a very merry gut!
Look out for more evidence-based and fermenty posts from Amy in the future!
Cani, P.D., 2016. Interactions between gut microbes and host cells control gut barrier and metabolism. International journal of obesity supplements, 6(S1), p.S28.
EU Science Hub - European Commission.(2019). Dietary Fibre - EU Science Hub - European Commission. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/health-knowledge-gateway/promotion-prevention/nutrition/fibre [Accessed 30 May 2019].
Daa.asn.au. (2019). Dietary fibre: key for a happy, healthy gut – Dietitians Association of Australia. [online] Available at: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/nourishing-nutrients/dietary-fibre-a-key-ingredient-in-gut-happiness/ [Accessed 30 May 2019].
Modi, S., Collins, J. and Relman, D. (2014).Antibiotics and the gut microbiota. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(10), pp.4212-4218.
Zinöcker, M. and Lindseth, I. (2018).The Western Diet–Microbiome-Host Interaction and Its Role in Metabolic Disease. Nutrients, 10(3), p.365.