Healthy Gut

Happy Gut, Healthy You!

Gut health relates to the functioning of your entire gastrointestinal tract (the tube that delivers your food from entry to exit). This involves digestion and absorption of food, as well as a whole host of other functions that happen without you even knowing.

It is only in the last decade or so, that scientists discovered the community of trillions of bacteria living in your gut. This means we can now both understand how to better manage gut-related conditions, as well as improve overall health.

In fact, this community of bacteria, known as your gut microbiota, can impact many other conditions like depression, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. And did you know, your 9-metre long digestive tract also houses 70% of your immune cells?! Just another reason why looking after your gut health is so key!

Our gut contains billions of different microbes which help to digest our food and produce useful waste products that reduce inflammation and bolster immune function. When the microbes are out of balance, we may experience symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, digestive discomfort and even poor mood.

How the foods you eat help your gut.

When it comes to maintaining your microbiome at its healthiest level, nothing is more important than what you eat and drink. The internal environment of your gut is dictated by what you put in your mouth — so the foods you choose to eat are a crucial component of maintaining gut health.

The good news is, that even a lifetime of less-than-ideal eating is fixable — at least as far as your microbes are concerned. Amazingly, your body can create a new microbiome in as little as 24 hours — just by changing what you eat. What you eat determines which bacteria thrive in your gut. And research tells us that the “good” gut bugs get stronger when fed a wide variety of colourful, plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit and legumes.

The more diversity in your diet, the more diverse the nutrient supply for your gut microbes. Well-fed, happy gut microbes = a happier, healthier gut!

What about probiotics and pre-biotics?

We often hear about prebiotics and probiotics. And that they have something to do with gut health. But what actually are they?

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that are naturally found in our gut and some foods. They improve our health by reducing the number of harmful bacteria that may survive in our gut. We can add good communities of microbes to our gut by eating fermented foods rich in good bacteria or probiotics such as:

  • Yoghurt with live cultures
  • Kefir (fermented milk or water-based drink) – usually has 30 beneficial strains of good bacteria
  • Kombucha (fermented black or green tea drink)
  • Fresh kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables)
  • Fresh sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)

Prebiotics

Additional benefits of this type of fibre are only just emerging. For example, early evidence shows that prebiotics may be associated with a range of health benefits including increased mineral absorption and improved blood glucose levels. Prebiotic-rich foods include:

  • Vegetables – green peas, snow peas, corn, garlic, onion, leeks, spring onion, asparagus, beetroot
  • Fruits – banana, watermelon, nectarines, white peaches, pomegranate, dried fruit
  • Legumes – chickpeas, baked beans, red kidney beans, lentils
  • Cereals – couscous, gnocchi, pasta, rye bread/crackers, barley, oats, wheat, soybeans
  • Nuts – cashews, pistachio nuts

 TOP TIPS for looking after your gut health

Looking after your gut health

Fill up on Fibre

We hear a lot about the health benefits of protein – but all too often, the pros of eating fibre go overlooked.

Fibre is your gut microbes’ favourite food – think of it as Mother Nature’s gift to your gut. In turn, keeping your gut microbes well-fed and happy will also benefit just about every organ in your body, including your heart, mind and skin health.

Up your fibre intake by including plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and wholegrains in your diet.

Mostly plant-based

Fibre is generally found in plant-based foods. Plant-based food doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a vegetarian or vegan. It just means making the base of your meal mainly plant food, and making meat a side affair. Aim to portion your plate using the 50:25:25 rule – that is, 50% vegetables, 25% carbohydrates and 25% protein.

Eat a varied diet

Our gut and our gut microbiota love variety. The more varied the diet, the more access these guys have to different types of food and fibre which allows them to grow, populate our gut and thrive. It can be easy to stick to the same foods each week, but why not try to change things up a little? Instead of looking at what to cut out of your diet, why not explore what foods you can add in? Aim to try a new fruit, vegetable or grain each week to help your gut stay healthy and happy.

Stay well hydrated

Water is another important component when it comes to gut health. Water helps to bulk out the undigested fibre, helping to keep things moving through the digestive tract. This can be really helpful in the case of bloating or constipation as well as helping us feel fuller for longer.

Rest and digest

Focus on sitting and being present with your meals, mindfully chewing each mouthful rather than eating on the go while staring at a screen. This has a positive effect on the breakdown of our food, absorption of nutrients and messaging to the brain for satiety.

 

How Lite n’ Easy can help?

Try our NEW Fibre Focus menu preference – it’s recommended for people who want to focus on their gut health and enjoy the benefits of a high fibre diet. Our dietitians have selected the highest fibre breakfast, lunch and dinner options for each day meaning you will get more than 30g of fibre per day on the full meal plans. The Fibre Focus menu preference features a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, so is a great way to increase your intake of plant foods and adopt a “flexitarian” approach. Like protein, fibre helps ‘feel fuller’ so you may find that you are less hungry with the fibre menu preference. Order now or give us a call on 13 15 12.
 
Larissa Robbins, APD Dietitian at Lite n' Easy