With the rise of Kombucha and other probiotic products, it’s clear that gut health is on most Australia’s minds.
But did you know that keeping your gut healthy helps keep the rest of our body well?
Recent research has found the human gut contains between 30 trillion and 400 trillion micro-organisms, known as our microbiome or microbiota, whereas the human body has an estimated 37 trillion cells – the number of bacteria in our gut likely exceeds the number of cells in our body!
But why should we care?
The gut microbiota not only affect our digestion, but also affect our mood including anxiety and depression, auto-immune conditions and inflammation, joint pain, and even our risk of obesity.
“All disease beings in the gut” – Hippocrates
Scientists have found a lack of diversity in the type of microbes in our guts, known as dysbiosis, is related to many modern diseases.
What have the Romans gut microbes ever done for us?
When we eat food, the fibre component of that food that isn’t digested in our upper digestive tracts reaches our colon – and there it acts as fuel for the microbiota. These microbes can then make us feel good or bad, with bloating being a common issue.
These microbes can affect the metabolism throughout our body, send chemical signals in our blood stream and affect our immune system. The gut microbiota can be thought of as the control centre for much of our biology.
The good news is that when eat a different diet, the diversity of gut microbes changes within 24 to 48 hours, and this alters our biology and our immune system.
Our Gut Microbiota is like a garden or an eco-system that needs to be cared for and fed the right foods to flourish
Eating for our gut microbiota
Eat a wide range of differently coloured vegetables as our guts have a diverse range of bacteria which each favour a different food, and the goods ones tend to like the veggies
Eats lots of fibre, particularly vegetables, pulses, nuts and some wholegrains and fruit. Vegetables such as artichokes, lettuce, leeks, onion, garlic and asparagus are particularly helpful
Eat probiotic foods such as kombucha, kefir, fermented foods such as sauerkraut as these foods already include the types of pro-biotic bacteria which help our gut
As most of us know, anti-biotics aren’t good for our gut microbiota, but ibuprofen can also harm our gut
Avoid highly processed ‘junk foods’, foods like hydrogenated oils, preservatives, emulsifiers, and natural and artificial flavourings, and artificial sweeteners
Stewed apples and hummus particularly reduce ‘leaky gut’ and inflammation and are favoured by the good types of bacteria in our gut
Sleep, stress, and exercise also affect the gut microbiota with high intensity exercise benefiting our gut microbiota. Another reason to get out there, and also make sure we get our rest and good sleep ..