Article by Talkington Bates’ Nutritionist, Hebe Richardson -
‘Boosting you gut health’ is a concept often seen in the media, and on products in supermarket aisles. It’s also a topic flooded with myths and anecdotal claims. Gut health, is quite a new area of research which is constantly growing and changing, the more we research and study it.
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What is the gut and why is it important?
When talking about the ‘gut’, what people often are referring to is the microorganisms that live in our digestive system, otherwise known as the gut microbiome. Each person has a distinctive and highly variable composition of these microbes. Research has considered how the microorganism can not only interact with our bodies, but also may influence our digestion, immunity, mood and metabolism.
How do we keep our gut happy?
Eating a varied diet, rich in fibre is a great way to support your gut health. Simply put, fibre is the indigestible part of plant foods which are beneficial to our health. It’s particularly important for gut health because It’s not digested by our digestive enzymes and travels all the way to the large intestine where it’s broken down by the bacteria in our gut. You can get fibre from lots of different places, including fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
2. Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are found in a variety of foods as well as isolated in the form of dietary supplements.
There is some evidence to suggest that probiotics and prebiotics could be effective in reducing symptoms of some digestive related disorders as well as other conditions.When it comes to adding probiotics into our diet, it’s difficult to suggest exactly how useful this may be to healthy individuals, as there is still so much we don’t know about them. Luckily for us though, we can find probiotics and prebiotics in lots of foods that we eat regularly such as yoghurts and some fermented foods.
3. Fermented foods
Fermenting foods is something humans have been doing for a long time. But over the last few years, has become very popular, with the focus mainly on foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and kefir.
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We ferment foods for a multitude of reasons, it can give foods unique flavours and textures,
enhances the shelf-life and safety. Research suggests that fermenting foods can enhance their nutritional and functional properties.
We all know that feeling you get in your stomach when you get nervous. This is due to a bi-directional relationship between the brain and the gut, known as the gut-brain axis. Meaning that our brain communicates with our gut, as well as our gut communicating with our brain.
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For most of us, stress is something we deal with every day, but may not be aware of. It can be difficult to identify stress, especially if it’s something we deal with all the time. Stress particularly can impact on our gut health by slowing down digestion, troubled tummy and a loss of appetite.
Dealing with stress can be challenging, but taking some time to consider how you can manage stress in your everyday life can be a useful starting point. This could be as simple as a walk, taking time away from your desk, mindfulness or yoga.
Regularly movement can be particularly useful, not just for stress management, but also for our gut health, as it encourages motility. Finding ways to move that feel good and are enjoyable for you is important. It doesn’t have to be HIIT training, something gentler like a walk or yoga can be just as useful.
5. Mindful eating
Mindful eating might sound a bit odd, but it can be a useful way to improve eating habits, enjoyment of eating and aid digestion. It’s encourages being fully present while eating, increasing awareness of thoughts, senses and feelings during and after eating. So why not trying these:
• Focusing on the food you’re eating, putting your phone down, moving away from the TV.
• Chewing more thoroughly and slowly. Taking time to pause while eating, maybe placing your cutlery down.
• Paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues throughout the day so we don’t get over hungry. Eating meals at regular times and not letting yourself get over hungry.