03 Jan 2020
From Bake Off to Bill Gates, the gut microbiome really is the topic everyone is talking about.
Gut health, probiotics and the microbiome have become more and more important in the world of wellness for a few years, but 2020 will see the gut microbiome’s big moment turn into a cultural movement.
So, why now? Put simply, the microbiome today faces many different challenges than it would have faced just 50 years ago.
Factors in modern day living such as stress, travel and Western diets are the biggest threats to the human microbiome resulting in common conditions including:
This means it’s never been more important to understand the role of your gut in maintaining your overall health.
Every organ within the gut, from the stomach to the anus, has a unique function that helps to keep your gut (and you) going regularly.
The key functions of your gut are:
Good digestion has a profound effect on your overall health, and is done with the help of your gut’s microbiome. A healthy microbiome contains lots of good bacteria, also known as probiotics.
Good gut bacteria are fundamental to our health, helping to break down and digest food, supporting the absorption of nutrients and discouraging ‘bad’ bacteria, yeasts, and other nasties known as pathogens that can take over and stop the gut from functioning correctly.
We should point out, everybody has some bad bacteria in their guts and this is normal; however, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria could result in an unhealthy gut microbiome. Be warned: some of these symptoms could surprise you!
So, if you suffer from one or more of the above symptoms, it’s probably time to join the *millions* prioritising a happy gut full of good bacteria this year.
Don’t forget that over 70%6 of your immune system residing in the gut, so it’s worth supporting your gut in small, easy ways to keep you and yours well on an ongoing basis.
Most people think of yoghurt drinks for getting a probiotic boost, however, there are many ways to get your daily dose of good bacteria.
Let’s start with fermented foods such as kombucha and sauerkraut which are high in probiotics. Also, there’s kitchen staples such as onions, bananas, blueberries, beans, and lots of greens (think broccoli, kale and cabbage) which contain prebiotics; a type of fibre your good gut bacteria feeds on to stay strong.
These are all great for our gut health, however with such busy schedules to manage modern life’s demands, it’s pretty difficult to make such a varied, colourful diet a daily habit. Enter: probiotic supplements …
Unlike foods rich in probiotics, with good bacteria supplements you know exactly how many probiotics you’re taking, and what type of strains are present. They’re also super-easy to take, being available either as capsules or in a sachet you can mix into drinks.
The strains are important to know as research shows different strains are good for different things. For example, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® has been shown to help support bloating symptoms7, whereas Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell 11 has been researched to support the gut during antibiotics8. Therefore, it’s advised you choose the best strains of bacteria for your individual health needs - this information isn’t easy to find for fermented foods, though it’s still great to include these in your diet for general gut support.
Now you’re clued up on gut health, nurture yours with these easy lifestyle hacks:
1. Keep the gut (and the rest of your body) well-nourished and hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help to improve and maintain the heath of your gut, by flushing out any unwanted toxins, undigested food etc.
2. Eat foods that are rich in fibre. Beans, nuts, seeds, whole-grains, fruits and vegetables. These all help to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
3. Try and limit sugar intake, as well as processed foods, animal fats, and animal protein - these can act as food for unhealthy bacteria that can harm your gut.
4. Improve your levels of good bacteria by introducing daily probiotics into your diet. Having healthy, friendly, good bacteria can improve your digestive health and reduce inflammation and allergies.