You’ve probably heard the saying ‘You are what you eat’ – those 5 words have never been more appropriate with the recent links between the balance of gut bacteria, also called ‘gut microbiota’ and our physical and mental health. Want to improve your gut health? Here’s 5 simple strategies to improve your microbiota from Dietitian Paula Norris (@MovingDietitian).
Firstly, determining an underlying cause for any gut troubles is important, so speak to your Doctor. Here’s a few diet tricks to get your gut health on track.
1. Eat a diet rich in prebiotic fibre
Prebiotic fibre stimulates the growth and activity of the probiotic organisms (good bacteria) through fermentation in the gut. More good bacteria often means better digestion and tolerance of foods. Get more prebiotic fibre by eating:
Legumes – chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans
Fruit (leave the skin on) – custard apples, nectarines, peaches, watermelon, pomegranate, grapefruit
Vegetables – chicory, garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, beetroot, green peas, snow peas, sweetcorn
Wholegrains – oats, barley, rye break, pasta, cous cous, wheat breads
Nuts – cashews, pistachios
2. Eat foods that contain good bacteria
Foods with good bacteria means more good bacteria in the gut. The best known food source is yoghurt. Lactic acid bacteria found in yoghurt may make it through the acidic environment in our stomachs to the small intestine. Not all probiotic containing yoghurts contain the level of the lactic acid bacteria required to have a positive digestive effect. More about yoghurt here. Check the ingredients list and choose a product from which you would get >100 million cfu (a measure of the number of good bacteria) in a serve. Other foods to include are cottage cheese, kefir and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso paste and kimchi.
3. Steer clear of processed foods
High fat and high sugar foods can negatively impact your gut microbiota. Add this to the list of reasons to avoid processed foods.
4. Control your stress levels
In an unfortunate vicious cycle, just as gut microbiota is likely to negatively influence stress levels, stress levels have also been shown to negatively impact on gut microbiota by decreasing its diversity and the number of microorganism’s present. Read more on managing food related anxiety here.
5. Try not to drink too much (booze)
Excessive alcohol intake has been linked with reduced amount and less diversity in gut microbiota.
Paula is a trained Dietitian working to provide ideas and information to make healthy eating easy! Check her out Instagram here