What is gut health?
The concept of gut health has recently garnered a lot of mainstream attention, but there is yet to be a concrete definition. Typically, gut health includes:
- Absence of gastrointestinal disease or symptoms
- Absence of undesirable local conditions, such as increased intestinal permeability, mucosal inflammation and deficiency
- Good function of processes linked to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as the such as the digestion and absorption of food
- Balance of microbes living in the GI tract – the microbiome
Signs of a healthy gut
Scientists have recently begun to discover the complexity of the microbiome and its impact on overall health. While there are still many discovered, it is quite easy to do a general check of your gut health or lack thereof. The following are signs of a healthy digestive system.
- Normal transit time
- Able to eat a diverse diet without any GI issues
- Good bowel movements
- No Excess Gassiness or Bloating
- Good Sleep and High Energy Levels
- Sharp Memory, Mood, and Focus
- Avoid processed foods, high salt foods & sugary foods.
- Avoid Antibiotics as much as possible
How can I make my gut healthy?
The trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes in your digestive tract make up your gut microbiome. The composition of that microbiome is unique to you. Having a diverse range of “good” bacteria is the cornerstone of a healthy gut.
Below are outlined ways to support your friendly bacteria and suppress unfriendly bacteria.
- Eat diversely – Try to eat the rainbow by mixing and matching plant foods with different colours. Aim to eat 50 different foods to feed at least 1,500 bacteria! Read our ‘50 Foods Challenge’ book written by our director Enid Taylor to find out how to increase diversity!
- Add more greens – Many plant-based foods also contain polyphenols. These compounds are not easily absorbed through your intestines, so they move along your gut to the large intestine, where most of your gut bacteria live. Microbes feed on polyphenols. In the process, they convert them into a variety of bioactive compounds.
- Eat prebiotic-rich foods – Prebiotics are a type of fibre that feeds friendly gut bacteria. Prebiotics pass through your gut without being digested and nourish your gut bacteria. Some examples include bananas, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, and onions.
- Add fermented foods – Probiotic foods contain live bacteria. They may help increase the diversity of your gut bacteria. There is some evidence that consuming these foods might encourage the growth of good bacteria and benefit overall health. Examples include kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso and sauerkraut.
- Avoid processed foods – These foods have high levels of refined sugars, salt, additives, and unhealthy fats and do not feed friendly bacteria resulting in the bacteria being starved and destroyed.
Frozen live yoghurt bark recipe
Below is a yummy recipe for you to try which not only nourishes your gut but also adds diversity to your diet!
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 500g / 2 cups plain or vanilla yoghurt (or any live yoghurt)
- 1 tbsp dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp raisins
- 35g strawberries, chopped
- 25g dried mango, chopped
- 25g cashews, finely chopped
- 1 tsp desiccated coconut
- Mix the yoghurt with the cranberries and raisins in a large bowl.
- Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper and pour the yoghurt mixture on top. Spread it about 1 ½ cm thick, or whatever you prefer.
- Sprinkle the strawberries, cashews and desiccated coconut on top and place in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until it is completely frozen.
- Remove from the freezer and use a sharp knife to break the bark into pieces.