A healthy gut is vital to our overall health and wellbeing and one of the most important organs in the body. It may be easy to take for granted, but this special organ really does deserve to be looked after!
The good news is that it isn’t hard to show your gut some love and ahead of Love Your Gut Week (17th-23rd September), Dietitian Jo Travers has shared her top tips for good gut health.
As Jo says; “The gut has now been found to do a lot more than just digest the food we eat. We now know that there is a direct connection between the gut and our brain and with a little looking after it will definitely look after you.”
- Eat a varied diet
Your gut is home to a range of helpful bacteria that help train our immune system, digest food and even affect our genes. To keep them thriving, you need to feed them well. Fibre-based foods are perfect for this so eat plenty of plant foods like vegetables, beans and whole grains.
- Keep hydrated
For food to move through the digestive system and bowels it needs to be properly lubricated and this simply means drinking enough water. Aim for around 2 litres of fluid every day.
- Eat fermented foods
Traditional fermentation of foods like yogurt and kimchi, grows lactic acid bacteria which colonise the gut when eaten and may have a positive effect on metabolism. Introducing bacteria to your gut through fermented foods can also support the bacteria that are already living there.
- Get into nature
Just coming into contact with the outdoors is enough to influence your gut bacteria. Microscopic airborne particles are colonised by a variety of bacteria that make their way into us via the air we breathe.5 Getting into different environments – like taking a trip to the countryside – will also increase the diversity of environmental bacteria we are exposed to and may also improve our microbiota.6
- Get enough sleep
We all know that good night’s sleep can make us feel better, but it has also been shown to have a direct effect on our microbiota. Even two nights of disrupted sleep has been shown to disrupt the ratio of two strains of bacteria thought to be involved in obesity.7
- Keep moving
Getting enough exercise can increase populations of some bacteria that can reduce inflammation.8 It also aids peristalsis – the movement of food through the gut – and may help to improve symptoms of constipation.9
For more information visit www.loveyourgut.com
David et al. (2014) Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature 505:559–563
2 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) (2010), Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for water. EFSA Journal, 8: Issue 3, 1459
3 Kim et al. (2011) Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients. Nutr Res. 31(6):436-43.
4 Burmeister A (2015) Horizontal Gene Transfer. Evol Med Public Health.2015(1): 193–194.
5 Mhuireach et al. (2016) Urban greenness influences airborne bacterial community composition. Science of The Total Environment 571; 680-687
6 Parajuli A et al. (2018) Urbanization reduces transfer of diverse environmental microbiota indoors. Front Microbiol 9:84
7 Benedict et al. (2016) Gut Microbiota and Glucometabolic Alterations in Response to Recurrent Partial Sleep Deprivation in Normal-weight Young Individuals Mol Metab 5(12):1175-1186
8 Monda et al. (2017) Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2017:3831972.
9 De Schryver AM et al. (2005) Effects of regular physical activity on defecation pattern in middle-aged patients complaining of chronic constipation. Scand J Gastroenterol. 40(4):422-9.