5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Health
Gut health has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation as more and more research emerges about its importance for overall health.
You’ve probably heard from a family member or friend or read from Dr Google about what’s best to improve your gut health, but even then it can be confusing!
There are plenty of products that claim to improve, boost and promote gut health. Products like bone broths, gut health powders and probiotic gummies are marketed to give you the magic cure but frankly, there are simpler and more affordable ways to do so.
In this blog, we are keeping things simple and exploring 5 ways you can improve your gut health without spending money on expensive products that ‘might’ work.
What is Gut Health?
When we talk about the gut, we are referring to your digestive tract which includes your stomach, small intestine and colon. The gut contains a unique and complex community of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that live in your digestive tract which is known as your gut microbiome.
Our gut plays a key role in how our bodies digest food, absorb nutrients, and fight off infection. It’s also closely linked to our mental health. Everyone’s gut microbiome is different and what is ideal can vary. When we have a balance of “good” and “bad" bacteria in our gut, we’re more likely to feel and stay healthy.
Signs & Symptoms of Poor Gut Health
The signs and symptoms of poor gut health can vary from person to person.
Some common signs include:
- Excessive gas
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
- Fatigue or foggy head
- Poor mood and sleep
- Food intolerances
- Frequent illness
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to consult with a doctor to ensure that you get the proper diagnosis and treatment.
5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Gut Health
Diet plays a large role in improving and maintaining good gut health. You’ll see a variety of gut health products available on the shelves but eating a variety of plant foods regularly can enhance the diversity in the amounts and types of bacteria in our gut microbiome.
1. EAT PROBIOTIC-RICH FOODS
Probiotics are friendly microorganisms found in certain food that help restore and build up the good bacteria in your gut.
Probiotic-rich foods include:
Some probiotics-rich foods can be high FODMAPs in certain quantities so be mindful if you have intolerances.
What about probiotic supplements? One thing to keep in mind is that there is no point in taking probiotic supplements if you don't eat high fibre foods full of prebiotics to feed the probiotics!
2. EAT A HIGH FIBRE DIET
Eating high fibre foods is one of the best ways to improve your gut health. Fibre is the non-digestible part of plant foods. Fibre can help keep you stay full for longer, improve cholesterol, manage blood sugar levels and keep your digestive system running smoothly.
A key role for fibre is providing prebiotics to ferment and feed the good bacteria in our guts, essentially allowing them to grow and multiply to support our immune system, hormone production and overall gut health.
High fibre foods include:
- Whole grain products
- Lentils and legumes
Our very own Fodbod Buddies are high in fibre and will keep you full while supporting good gut health - win-win!
3. EAT AT LEAST 30 DIFFERENT PLANT FOODS EACH WEEK
Now, this may sound like a lot, but it’s easier than you think. Research shows that people who consume 30 or more plant foods per week have a more diverse gut microbiome than those who had 10 or less per week.
Fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains all count as plant foods.
Ways to improve the variety of plant foods in your diet include:
- Mix seeds in a jar and sprinkle on yoghurt, porridge or cereal
- Have a handful of mixed nuts each day
- Add 4 bean mix to salads
- Include legumes in your meals
4. MINIMISE ULTRA PROCESSED FOODS
Ultra processed foods are high in sugar, salt and saturated fats which don’t support good gut health. By following a more wholefood plant-based diet you'll likely reduce your intake of ultra processed foods. You don’t need to restrict these foods in your diet but they also shouldn’t be a large part of your daily intake.
5. STAY HYDRATED
Choose water as your drink of choice to assist with digestion and keep your bowels regular. Aim for around 8 glasses of water a day and more on hot or physically active days.
Maintaining a healthy gut is essential for overall health and well-being. Incorporating these five simple steps into your lifestyle can help improve your gut health and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.