Gut health is integral for your overall wellbeing.
The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses inside you, and it plays a huge role in the human body. According to Healthline, it would be very hard to survive without good gut bacteria.
The microbiome is responsible for everything from controlling your immune system to your brain health. It also assists with weight management, controlling blood sugar and can help lower the risk of diabetes.
There are a bunch of easy ways to improve or support your gut health. And, it’s mostly through the food you consume.
Increase your consumption of fermented foods
Fermented foods can help strengthen your microbiome through the introduction of more healthy bacteria like lactobacilli. According to Healthline, certain fermented foods have also been found to reduce quantities of disease-causing bacteria in the gut.
To increase your intake of fermented foods, try incorporating sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, tempeh or kombucha into your diet. Yoghurt is also a great source of good bacteria and has been shown to enhance the function of the microbiome. Make sure to avoid yoghurt with large amounts of added sugar.
Load your plate with fruit, veggies & legumes
Eating a variety of fruit, vegetables and legumes is so important for fostering a healthy microbiome. Fruit and veggies are filled with fibre that isn’t able to be digested by your body, but it can be digested by gut bacteria. And, this helps to stimulate the growth of more good bacteria.
Beans and legumes are also great sources of fibre for the gut. Other fibre-rich foods include peas, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, raspberries and artichokes.
Focus on incorporating prebiotic foods
While you might be familiar with probiotics, prebiotics are just as important. Prebiotics help to stimulate the growth of bacteria in the gut.
Resistant starch is a form of prebiotic food. This is a type of starch that isn’t absorbed by the small intestine and instead passes through to the large intestine and acts like fuel for the microbiome.
According to the CSIRO, resistant starch can be found in firm bananas, wholegrain cereals and legumes like chickpeas, lentils and baked beans. Another great way to consume resistant starch is through cooked and cooled pasta, rice or potatoes. When these foods are cooked and cooled, there is a noticeable rise in the resistant starch levels.
Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are used frequently as a replacement for sugar, but studies have shown that it can negatively impact gut bacteria. Sweeteners are often used in products like diet soft drinks, some canned foods, jellies and baked goods.
One study that focused on aspartame, a commonly used sweetener, found that it increased the blood sugar of rats and negatively impaired their insulin response. The research also found a high levels of Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium leptum in the rats’ intestines. These are linked to disease when present in large numbers.
Monitor your stress levels
Stress can be hard on your whole body but especially your gut. According to Harvard Health, high levels of stress can actually affect the physiology of the gut and cause symptoms like loose stools, bloating and abdominal cramps.
So, monitoring your stress levels is key but keep in mind that everyone manages their stress differently. Some ways to decrease stress include meditation, gentle exercise like yoga and spending time with friends and family.
Chew your food
While shoveling down your dinner in front of the TV is tempting, it’s not doing great things for your gut health. Masticating your food thoroughly and taking your time when eating aids digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients more effectively, which in turn is better for your gut health.