Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Look out for my article on gut health in Colchester's Elite magazine. I write a monthly column on nutrition for Elite - what should I write about next time? Any suggestions as to what you might find helpful?
Look after your gut
Microbes which include bacteria are usually considered to be a source of disease, but the trillions of microbes contained in your body are critical for keeping you healthy and our gut bacteria have a particularly important role to play.
Increasing evidence is emerging to support good gut health as the foundation for health itself, with balanced levels of gut bacteria linked to a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer and allergies, not to mention depression and anxiety.
A good diet is crucial as an imbalance can occur when good bacteria are diminished by poor eating habits, often resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, wind and constipation. Other factors that can impact on your microbiome include stress and medication, including painkillers and reflux medication, with the biggest culprit being antibiotics.
The good news is that you can turn things around with the help of a registered nutritional therapist who is trained to help you address digestive health issues.
To get you started, here are 3 top tips:
1. Increase your vegetables
Aim for a minimum of 3 portions of vegetables a day to increase your fibre intake. Include leeks, garlic and onions regularly as prebiotics to feed the good gut bacteria.
2. Eat a wholegrain food once a day
Increase your fibre with wholegrains which retain the entire grain kernel. Choose brown bread, oats and brown rice and consider other options such as quinoa and bulgur wheat.
3. Eat a fermented food once a day
These foods include kefir, sauerkraut (not in vinegar), miso soup, live yoghurt, natural cheeses and kombucha.
Probiotic supplementation is also an option, but brands with high concentrations of bacteria can be expensive, so it is recommended that you talk to a nutritional therapist to make a selection.