By the Whole Food Dietitian, Caryn
Gut health, or the “gut microbiome” is hot right now! The more we learn about our resident bugs, the more we realise just how important they are. So today, on Top Tip Tuesday, let’s debrief it with top 5 facts about the gut microbiome, followed by top 5 tips about how to look after your bug-flatmates:
- We have more bugs that live in our gut than we do human cells, wow – we’re actually more bug than human! Plus, these bugs are not just visiting – they’re there to stay. They can cause both health and harm, so we need to look after them.
- There is likely a link between these critters, and our immune system and health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, even obesity and cancer.
- Probiotics are substances that come from both food and supplements that stimulate the growth of our good bugs.
- Prebiotics are substances that come from both food and supplements that feeds these good bugs and keeps them happy.
- We don’t exactly know what causes the bug-environment in our gut to change, it might be our genes, our environment, our food, our lifestyle, antibiotic use, or a combination of things. We still have a lot to learn.
Bottom line – look after your gut bugs – here’s how:
- Eat a wide variety of whole unprocessed foods
- Grow your good bugs: Eat fermented foods like unsweetened, natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, keffir (probiotic fermented milk drink).
- Feed your good bugs: Include some fermentable fibre in your diet (eg. sweet potato, artichoke, yams, leeks, onion, garlic, radish, cruciferous vegetables).
- If you’re not regularly eating foods that contain natural pre and probiotics, or your gut is compromised, take a good quality supplement.
- Understand the role that antibiotics has on your gut health – it can be a necessary treatment, but can be detrimental to microbiome so therefore should be supported with a good quality supplement.