Why is gut health so important?
Your digestive system is a marvel of biology even if it’s not as glamorous as the brain or other organs. It is responsible for extracting all the goodness out of your food and keeping you going throughout the day. As well as this, the gut has a known role to play in the immune system. With this knowledge in mind, it’s important to keep your gut in a healthy condition; all you have to do is keep it fed well.
Your gut flora or ‘microbiota’ are the microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that call your gut home. These bacteria are normal and natural. Scientists even state that there is roughly the same amount of bacteria cells in a human as human cells!
Every person has a unique composition of gut flora and research has recently started to explore idea that these bacteria can affect weight gain. Research has recently been driven drawn towards this neglected area of human health. These microorganisms (probiotics) play a vital role in aiding in digestion of compounds your body cannot break down by itself. They also ‘exclude’ dangerous bacteria which can appear after antibiotic treatment and prevent them from colonising your gut. They also aid in immune system regulation.
A healthy gut biome can also help prevent less serious but still unpleasant problems such as bloating and gut pain. Therefore, it is important to nurture these helpful bacteria and help them to help you.
Probiotics are helpful bacteria which live in the gut. You can actually ingest these bacteria in order to reap the health benefits of these wonderful organisms. They are often found in foods fermented by these bacteria. Different probiotics can have different effects.
Examples of foods containing probiotics include:
Prebiotics and Soluble Fibre
Soluble dietary fibre is known otherwise as prebiotics. Prebiotics are compounds that you yourself can’t digest but healthy bacteria (probiotics) can feed on. This allows them to grow and provide you with their health benefits! Some examples of foods that have these helpful compounds include:
- Berries – explore the benefits of beautiful berries here!
- Vegetables such as leeks, garlic, artichokes, asparagus.
- Grains e.g. wheat, rye, barley
- Oats – read more about the benefits of oats here!
Insoluble fibre is vital for a healthy gut. This form of fibre cannot be dissolved and is broken down to a lesser extent by microbes thus it has a lower prebiotic potential. It does, however, bulk out waste and allows it to move through the gut quicker and more efficiently. Generally foods that contain a large quantity of soluble fibre also contain large amounts of insoluble fibre as well.
- Whole grains e.g. bulgar
- Flax seeds