Gut Health has easily become the most exciting topic in the nutrition world and in conventional medicine as well. We've known that probiotics are good for you for a really long time, even though we haven't fully understood how undeniably important our microbiome is. Even our grandparents and the generations before them knew that fermented foods (a generalised way of consuming probiotics) such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir and miso are good for the body.
Probiotic foods like these help to maintain a healthy level of good bacteria in our digestive system, by replacing our good bacteria that may have been lost. We lose some of these good bacteria when we take antibiotics, have food poisoning or diarrhoea and eat processed foods, sugar, low fibre diets, etc.
New research is telling us that prebiotics are possibly even more important than probiotics, as they feed our gut bacteria and keep them healthy - yes, we actually have to feed our good bacteria, for real!
Some facts about our Gut Microbiome:
- These bacteria make up about 1kg of our body weight – yes, really!
- The human body is made up of approximately 10 trillion cells…and we have almost 10 times that amount of bacteria living in our gut!!
The new way of thinking is that rather than us having OUR gut bacteria, in fact, we are THEIR human.
So, we’re actually made up of more bacteria, than we are human cells…seriously!
Why do we need these good bacteria?
- They keep the bad bacteria under control.
- They help us to digest our food properly. Properly digested food supplies us with nutrients and reduces bloating, cramping, inflammation and flatulence.
- They produce vitamins such as vitamin K and biotin.
- There are links between gut bacteria and obesity, depression, and other mental health issues which is still being researched to be more fully understood.
- They perform a role in our immune system, preventing allergies, and producing antibodies.
Our gut produces more antibodies that any other part of our bodies. So if we have a healthy gut, we have a healthy immune system.
How can you look after your Gut Microbiome?
- If you have a course of antibiotics, or have experienced diarrhoea, take a course of quality probiotics. Probiotics that are kept in the fridge, and bought from a health food store or natural health practitioner, are usually of good quality.
- If you have a specific health need, such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, etc, there are specific strains of probiotics that have been proven to assist in your circumstances. These specific strains are best prescribed for you by a Nutritionist or Naturopath.
- Consume fermented foods. It’s easy and cost effective to make your own (like sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kombucha) or eat natural, organic, full fat yoghurt, etc.
- Feed your Gut Microbiome. These bacteria actually need certain foods (prebiotics) to maintain them (weird, right?). They love soluble fibre and starchy carbs like sweet potato, snow peas, green peas, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, custard apples, watermelons, dried fruit, cashews, pistachios, chickpeas, lentils, oats, red kidney beans, etc.
- Stop over sanitising your environment. Use of antibacterial wipes, soaps and sprays in the home kills bacteria and is implicated in killing good and bad bacteria. Most homes don’t need to use these products, and they are marketing hype.
These are simple steps that will make a world of difference to your health.
Many clients that I see have gut health issues that they are not even aware of, as they get used to feeling a certain way and forget what it's like to have amazing gut health and this is part of the problem.
If you think this might be you, follow my tips above or make an appointment to see me or your health professional.