Gut health is paramount to your overall health and wellbeing. The balance between the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system determines how well you can absorb the nutrients from the food, and influences your ability to fight off infection and illness.
Not having a healthy gut flora has been linked to bloating, constipation, stomach complaints, as well as inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.
For me, a lifelong issue of gut flora from when I was very young has meant I’ve had to do a lot of trial and error in finding how to manage my digestive issues. If you’d like to know more about my journey to better gut health, I’ve detailed it all in my book, Perfect Digestive Health, available as an eBook.
But while everyone is different with unique hormonal and metabolic characteristics, the good news is that it’s actually quite easy to maintain a healthy gut and keep in optimal health and wellbeing. Just by eating a wholefoods diet, that’s full of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods, you can support a proper balance of good and bad gut bacteria.
YOUR GUT IS CRITICAL TO YOUR HEALTH
Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, noted “all disease begins in the gut” and today, modern medicine is slowly catching on to this.
Research is showing that our gut flora performs pivotal roles in metabolism, nutrient digestion, absorption and synthesis, as well as immune function, hormonal regulation and disease prevention.
Not having enough of the good gut flora has been linked to health issues ranging from depression, constipation and bloating to autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, inflammatory bowel and type 1 diabetes.
As we now know, the gut also influences your mental health. Our intestinal nervous system and gut flora are key players in the production of chemicals that regulate our thoughts and moods. Eighty to 90 per cent of the body’s feel good hormone serotonin is found in the gut where it helps with how fast your food passes through your system and muscle contraction. Outside of the gut, serotonin plays a pivotal role in regulating sleep and elevating mood.
Just by eating a wholefoods diet, that’s full of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods, you can support a proper balance of good and bad gut bacteria.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption into our bloodstream. Probiotics play an integral role in maintaining healthy gut function by preventing the invasion of harmful microbes.
Probiotics are also involved in the synthesis of important nutrients such as vitamin K and short chain fatty acids. The word ‘probiotic’ actually means ‘pro-life’ so, where possible, choose the foods that are life-giving to your health.
Good sources of probiotics are fermented foods such as tempeh, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt, as well as in powdered or capsule form from health food stores.
The fermentation process ‘pre-digests’ the food and makes it easier to absorb. Kefir also has beneficial microbiota, making it one of the most potent probiotic foods available. When choosing a supplement probiotic, look for a multistrain powder or capsule that has the ability to colonise the gastrointestinal tract.
To improve your gut health, consume probiotic foods like the above daily. In addition to this, I’ve designed Everyday Greens to include probiotics, so you can obtain all the nutrients from organic greens and also get a dose of good bacteria to help support your immunity, digestion, and optimum nutrient absorption.
More specifically, Everyday Greens was designed for those with IBS and digestive issues such as bloating and SIBO like myself. I wanted an alkalising greens blend that was quickly aborbed into the body, tasted wonderful and supported my journey towards better digestive health.
WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?
Prebiotics fuel our intestinal probiotics. Prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in our large intestine, helping to promote balanced gut flora and healthy bowel function.
When our good bacteria eat prebiotic fibre, they produce beneficial short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which inhibits the growth of disease-causing pathogens and maintains the health of our intestinal lining. Eating these wholefood prebiotics allows for an increased production of butyrate by our gut microbes.
Butyrate acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent for the colonic cells, and functions to improve the integrity of our gut by decreasing intestinal permeability and therefore keeping toxins in the gut and out of the bloodstream.
Natural prebiotics are found in a variety of plant-based foods, which is another great reason to eat a nourishing wholefoods diet. Rich sources of prebiotics include green leafy vegetables, citrus, flaxseeds, chia, sweet potato, beetroot, carrot, leeks, cabbage and kiwi fruit.
Organic Superfood is also in rich in prebiotics and contains one of the finest sources of dietary fibre, Jerusalem artichoke, to promote healthy digestion.
Overall, combining probiotic and prebiotic rich foods in your diet can help protect you against many mental and physical health related issues and supports your health and wellbeing long term.