Optimal Gut health
'Go with your gut'. This phrase has stood the test of time, and for good reason; there's loads of evidence for a strong link between our guts and brains; the so-called 'gut-brain' axis. Our gut also helps to strengthen our immune system and plays a vital role in absorbing nutrients from the food we eat. Therefore, keeping our gut healthy is essential for our wider health. Give yours the boost it deserves with this guide to optimal gut health!
Eating plenty of fibre is well-known to improve digestion and, whilst the UK government recommends we consume 30g fibre per day, most of us only eat around half of this; 18g. We can all reach this target by incorporating more fibre-rich foods at every meal, including nuts, seeds, pulses, lentils, fruits and vegetables. Oats are another fantastic source of fibre! They contain more soluble fibre than any other grain (which means they take longer to digest and therefore keep you feeling fuller for longer).
Besides fibre, prebiotics are another important ingredient in the recipe for a healthy, happy gut, acting as food for good gut bacteria. Bananas are an ideal, cost-effective way of increasing your intake of prebiotics and are also known to help calm an upset stomach. Other great sources of prebiotics include asparagus and onion. These both contain a special prebiotic called inulin, which also has a mild laxative effect. Add them cold to a salad or lightly cooked with a portion of protein for a delicious fibre-packed lunch or dinner.
What about the actual gut bacteria? In contrast to prebiotics, probiotics contain the good bacteria itself! Whilst taking a probiotic supplement is one solution, you can also get your daily dose through food itself. For example, Greek yogurt is a fantastic source of probiotics and is higher in protein and lower in sugar than other types of yoghurt.
Our guts are vital for optimum health; protecting us from illness, extracting nutrients and energy from food, and even affecting our mental health. By incorporating more fibre, pre- and probiotics into your diet, you’ll notice better physical and mental health as well as improvements in overall wellbeing. I’ve got a gut feeling about it.