What is ‘good gut health’?
Gut health is revolutionising our approach to health and wellness, so what is good gut health?
We’ve all heard that bacteria and other microbes can cause illnesses and disease, but many of us would not be aware that only 5% of these microbes are actually harmful to us and can cause disease. The remaining 95% play an essential role in keeping you healthy.
Our bodies contain trillions of micorbes, in fact, there are more microbes on a persons hand than there are people in the world!
The most dense area where microbes populate are in the gut, where they play a vital role in digestion, weight regulation as well as helping your immune system.
What we eat can alter the microbes in the gut and and therefore have an affect on your health, and mental state of mind.
So, what we eat isn’t just about nutrition, it feeds the bacteria that live inside the gut. We are all different, but experts point towards certain broad principles that can help maintain good gut health.
We all know that eating a diet that is high in fibre keeps us ‘regular’ but most people eat less than they should. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains feed healthy bacteria.
Those that suppress the ‘good’ bacteria, or increase ‘bad’ bacteria are items that contain highly processed foods.
If you have a diet that is currently low in fibre, gradually ease fibre into your diet. I can tell you from past experience, that a sudden increase can cause a lot of wind and bloating – therefore, introduce it gradually, for example, eating Granola for breakfast and drink plenty of water.
Yes, you’ve heard it again. Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. Polyphenols, micronutrients found in some plant-based foods, are useful for gut health, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Probiotics are living organisms that are found naturally in foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and kefir. They are known as ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria as they can help microbes to grow. As with most things, eat them if you enjoy them.
We’ve heard recently that our bodies are becoming immune to the effects of antibiotics and that we should only take these when absolutely essential. Antibiotics also kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as the ‘bad’ ones.
I know, I said it. As we all know, taken in moderation alcohol is not going to have a massively detrimental affect on your gut. However, chronic alcohol consumption can cause serious problems, including dysbiosis.
Interestingly, Gin decreased the number of beneficial gut bacteria, whereas red wine actually increased the abundance of bacteria known to promote gut health. Please do drink responsibly.
How good gut health can help other parts of your body
When you eat foods like red meat or eggs, bacteria from these foods make a chemical that your liver turns into something called TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide). TMAO can aid cholesterol build up in your blood vessels – this could cause some heart issues and may also lead to chronic kidney disease.. Again, we are not saying take all meat our of your diet, but moderation is always the best way forward.
Recent research has also identified the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome may affect your emotions and the way your brain processes information from your senses, like sights, sounds, flavors, or textures.
Finally, a healthy gut can stop messages of hunger to the pituitary gland, which makes hormones that help set your appetite. A happy pituitary gland stops the need to overeat.
For more information on ‘Good Gut Health’ and to find out about some additional reading on gut health, read the latest edition of InBath –