When scientists discovered that there are trillions of microscopic organisms living inside the human body, there wasn’t necessarily a complete understanding of how these microorganisms may be beneficial to our health.
These tiny creatures make their homes inside our digestive system and consume our food to meet their nutritional needs.
The composition of your gut microbiome is personally unique, and consists of trillions of microscopic organisms of many different species of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.
When there’s a good balance between pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms in your gut microbiome, this is usually known as a healthy gut.
Recent scientific studies point to the fact that 80% of your immune system is situated in your gut, making it a vital aspect to nurture for overall vitality.
Pathogenic microorganisms: these can cause disease. There are five main types: viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa (single-cell organisms) and worms.
Non-pathogenic microorganisms: gut flora bacteria, usually harmless and often beneficial.
How does the gut microbiome affect your health?
The incredible complexity of the gut is a major aspect of how it helps maintain our overall health. Over the past few decades, scientists have done much research on the connection between the gut microbiome and human health.
They have found that there’s a link between our gut and our digestive, endocrine, immune and mental health. So, it appears that a healthy gut plays a vital role in your health and well-being.
How can I make my gut healthy?
Having a good balance between pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms is the cornerstone of the healthy gut. With this in mind, you should be able to support your non- pathogenic microorganisms and suppress pathogenic microorganisms.
The latest health advice is centred around diversity of food sources. It’s now recommended that we eat around 30 different plant foods each week to supply our guts with as many beneficial nutrients as possible.
Follow these tips to help support your health gut:
- Eat wide variety of foods
- Maintain oral hygiene
- Eat more fermented foods
- Spice up your foods
- Eat quality oils and healthy fats
- Try regular exercise
- Maintain your stress levels
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
- Limit processed foods, high-salt foods & sugary foods
- Avoid antibiotics as much as you can
What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
An imbalance of your normal gut microbiota may lead to a variety of digestive conditions and issues. There are a number of common signs that may indicate an imbalance in your microbiota, such as:
- Stomach disturbances and abdominal pain
- Gas and bloating, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhoea
- Unintentional weight fluctuation
- Irritability, moodiness and lack of concentration
- Sleep disturbances and insomnia
- Food intolerances
- Skin irritation
- Increased sugar craving
Which foods promote a healthy gut?
A healthy microbiome is a diverse one. The more we eat a wide variety of healthy and whole foods, the more we encourage the growth of different species and strains of gut bacteria.
Wholegrain foods are one of the best choices to create a healthy gut. Wholegrain includes a wide variety of fibres, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Some examples are spelt, quinoa, millet or buckwheat.
Fermentation is an anaerobic process where the microorganisms break down the food into nutritionally rich materials by improving the bioavailability of nutrients. This process enhances the survival of the microorganisms and nutrient absorption.
Some examples of fermented foods are kimchi, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and vegan food products, such as algae-based foods or fermented miso.
Wide variety of fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are an incredible natural source of essential vitamins, prebiotic fibres and minerals. Some people may have digestive issues with vegetables. If this is the case, boiling vegetables can create nutrient-rich water which you can drink as a broth.
With this broth, you can benefit from water-soluble vitamins and some soluble fibres. In addition, cook vegetables in boiling water to blanch, then add herbs (such as basil, parsley or rosemary) and blend well.
Eat healthy oils and fats
Fat is a source of essential fatty acid which the body cannot make itself and a source of high energy, which are both vital for overall health and nurturing the gut.
The main type of fats we can found in the fat food are:
- Unsaturated fats
Most unsaturated fats are derived from plants (olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn or sunflower oil) and fish (kippers, herring, trout, sardines, salmon and mackerel).
- Saturated fats
Usually derived from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as some plant foods, such as palm oil and coconut oil. The best kinds of oil for general health are unrefined, cold pressed, organic and extra virgin oil options.
It’s good to keep in mind that it’s sensible to not overheat oil, because overheating can cause significant damage to fat molecules, structurally and chemically that won’t benefit our guts.
Sprouted seeds and beans
A great source of essential vitamins, proteins and enzymes, sprouted foods are more healthy than wholegrain, because the germination process in sprouted foods breaks down more starch and is easier to digest.
Grass-fed meat is so nutritionally superior to factory-farmed meat. This is because factory-farmed meat options are more prone to disease from feed pumped with artificial hormones and lots of medications to aid the increase of fat in animals.
These chemicals may have a negative influence on the microbiome, so the more natural meats are best in terms of delivering healthy, lean protein for cell repair and to support the whole digestive system.
High quality, dark organic chocolate with low level sugar can provide some valuable antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and minerals such as iron, magnesium and copper. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can improve blood flow to internal organs and lower blood pressure.
It could also be beneficial to your gut to consider using xylitol and stevia-like sweeteners, because they occur naturally in nature. However, if you suffer from a digestive condition, such as IBS, you may want to avoid large amounts of artificial sweetener as these may irritate your gut.
Salt is an essential nutrient and is necessary for normal call function and for neurotransmission. But, high sodium consumption can contribute to elevated blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease or strokes.
However, if you reduce salt intake it may lead to a generally healthier lifestyle. Instead of pure salt, you might want to try mineral rich salts such as Himalayan salt, Celtic grey sea salt, Atlantica sea salt or unrefined and chemical-free salt.
Our bodies don’t work harder to digest milk than food; however, if we lack the ability to produce enzymes which help to digest milk, especially lactase enzymes, it becomes harder to break down lactose into more easily absorbable sugars.
Non-dairy milks, yoghurts and cheeses are now very popular, such as almond, oat or coconut milk and can help support those with lactose intolerances or other digestive health issues.
Herbs and spices
Herbs and spices are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, fibres and healthy fats. Some examples you could try are green leafy herbs such as sage, mint, basil, and other spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger or nutmeg.
These herbs and spices have been found to support the growth of non-pathogenic microorganisms and it has been said they may help to soothe and calm the digestive system.
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The Taymount Team
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