The Health and Wellbeing column with Mel Spencer: Nurturing your gut for good health

When we think about nutrition, we tend to think about it from the perspective of what our food does for us directly, overlooking the fact that we are also feeding trillions of bacteria living within us - of which the ‘good’ bacteria are doing amazing things, so we should be looking after them to the best of our ability – our focus here.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 11:16 am
Prebiotics are basically their food and can be found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and soybeans, certain nuts and fruits to name a few.

When we think about nutrition, we tend to think about it from the perspective of what our food does for us directly, overlooking the fact that we are also feeding trillions of bacteria living within us - of which the ‘good’ bacteria are doing amazing things, so we should be looking after them to the best of our ability – our focus here.

Most of these ‘good’ (and some not-so-good bacteria), live in our gut/digestive tract, also known as the gut biome.

It’s only in recent years that the importance of this biome to our health is becoming more understood.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a healthy gut, with the right balance of microorganisms, has a massive effect on your health and wellbeing including aiding digestion, the absorption of nutrients, regulating vitamin levels and supporting the immune system (a massive 80% of which is found in the gut).

Conversely, an imbalance in gut bacteria has been found to contribute to chronic diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diabetes.

Links have also been found to mental health, cholesterol levels and obesity.

So what can you do to keep your gut healthy?

Your nutrition is one of the biggest influences on gut health because our microbes are reliant upon what we feed them – this is where pre and probiotics come in.

Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that you can add to your intestinal tract and can be found in dairy products like yoghurt, miso and fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut.

Prebiotics are basically their food and can be found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and soybeans, certain nuts and fruits to name a few.

Processed foods can disrupt the biome and have the potential to add ‘bad’ bacteria as well as reduce the numbers of the ‘good’ so should be kept to a minimum.

By keeping your ‘good’ bacteria levels up you are keeping your ‘bad’ bacteria at bay as they literally don’t have the space to grow.

Other factors that affect gut health include sleep, stress and exercise, so lifestyle is of great importance.

Whilst we still don’t know everything there is to know about the gut microbiome, we do know that the balance of our bacteria has a huge impact on our overall health.

Boosting your gut health can only be a good thing. Get nurturing!