A Gut Feeling
Gut-friendly grub seems to be on everyone's mind; the importance of gut health has made it into the mainstream from the peripheral territory of Actimel in the yoghurt aisle.
If I'm entirely honest, I only really started paying attention to information about gut health after I saw an episode of the BBC docu-series called 'Doctor in the House.'
In the show, one of the people featured was a child whose weight gain couldn't be explained any other way, so the doctor decided to investigate his gut health. It turns out that this boy's gut had far fewer microbes than it should have had, but interestingly, it only takes a minor incident to cause this to happen e.g.taking a course of antibiotics.
The solution was surprisingly simple; to eat as wide a range of fruit and vegetables as possible. After recommending a solution of eating as wide a variety of vegetables and fruits as possible, we return to find that this particular child has in fact, lost a solid amount of weight.
The gut is home to the most dense concentration of microbes in your body, and these play a critical role in everything from digestion to immunity to weight management. The biggest single factor which impacts the gut and how well it, and these microbes, function, is diet. The foods we consume are absolutely critical.
Here's a handy-dandy infographic from the BBC to explain.
Foods to Support the Gut
Fermented foods are one of the best choices when it comes to promoting the growth of healthy bacteria and eliminate the bad kind. This includes foods like sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, and kimchi. Yogurt is also one of your top choices because it contains millions of the healthy bacteria that your gut needs. Foods rich in fiber are also important because it helps promote healthy digestion throughout your intestines. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the best, and healthiest, source of fiber.
You might also want to take a probiotic supplement to boost your body’s store of good bacteria. At the same time, limit artificial sweeteners and unneeded antibiotics, both of which can skew your gut’s balance of good vs. bad bacteria, leading to issues in your intestines and with your general health.
Benefits of Gut Foods
As mentioned above, these gut foods help promote health in a variety of ways. When you choose the right foods, you help build a healthy immune system, which as you know, helps keep you healthy. This means your body is better able to respond to viruses and infections that can make you sick. In addition, having a healthy gut just makes you feel better in general.
Another perk to balancing your gut biome is that you can control your weight. People with specific digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease may experience an alleviation of symptoms by following a healthy gut diet.
Additionally, a healthy gut has been shown in certain research studies to help support good heart health and may also prevent the risk of developing diabetes or high blood sugar. Some studies show that a healthy gut biome can also help reduce the symptoms and incidence of depression and other brain disorders.
Diseases Caused by Poor Gut Health
Having a healthy gut can help treat or prevent certain health conditions. It makes sense to assume then, that poor gut health can lead to or exacerbate health problems. Research has linked an unhealthy gut biome to cancer, obesity, bowel disorders, autism, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, skin infections, Parkinson’s disease, and asthma. More research is needed, but the results of these studies show promise in finding ways to prevent and treat a wide range of health issues.
So, the foods you eat play a huge role in your overall health, something you’ve likely known for a long time, but not fully understood the relevance of. In addition to eating the right foods, you can also support your gut health by controlling stress, getting plenty of physical activity and sleeping enough at night.
These simple steps could have you feeling great in no time at all.