Take care of your gut: you only have one!
Are tummy troubles affecting your day-to-day life? More than half of the country suffers from some form of stomach discomfort. Microba’s accredited dietician Bianca Maree Harrington shares some simple and affordable ways you can take care of your gut that don’t burn a hole in your pocket!
Research into gut health and the gut microbiome — the community of bacteria that live in your gut – has increased in the past decade, with many links to health and disease being discovered. Many Australians suffer from some form of digestive discomfort, but it can be confusing and overwhelming to know where to start. Brisbane-based company Microba is helping Australians explore their gut microbiome with a simple home test kit.
Harrington says, “Gut health doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. There are many foods you can buy locally which have health-promoting effects on your gut.”
Gut balance and diversity
According to Harrington, the key to gut health is indeed balance. She explains that gut health is all about diversity, which essentially refers to the abundance of different species in your gut.
“High diversity is generally reflective of good health, while the opposite is true with low diversity and may indicate poorer health,” she says.
You may be wondering what you can do at home to improve your gut health, your diversity and the overall health of your microbiome. Well, it’s easier than you would think!
“One of the key things that Australians are lacking is sufficient fibre in their diets,” Harrington says.
“This is the best way to increase the diversity of your microbiome, and it is recommended that women in Australia and New Zealand consume at least 28 grams of fibre per day.”
Harrington explains that foods with high levels of fibre include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals legumes and pulses. To avoid boredom with eating, she recommends switching up fruits and vegetables to match what’s in season, as this also helps to promote diversity.
“You can aim to have different sources of wholegrains throughout each day,” she says.
“This may be a high-fibre breakfast cereal of rolled oats, followed by dense grainy bread or rice for lunch, and perhaps quinoa or polenta for dinner.”
On the same track as variety in foods, Harrington explains that getting the balance right between protein and fibre is also key to a healthy gut.
“Our gut microbiome contains both fibre- and protein-digesting species, and ideally, we want to promote these fibre-digesting species.
“These species produce beneficial substances, which promote healthy gut cells by reducing inflammation and maintaining healthy gut function,” she says.
Harrington cautions that mainstream fad diets supporting low carbohydrate, high fat or high protein-based diets can shift the balance to be in favour of protein-digesting species.
“This can lead to the release of pro-inflammatory substances which is not ideal for your gut, so aim for a high-fibre intake combined with healthy fats and lean proteins to ensure the right balance!”
Fermented foods for your gut
Harrington adds that you can include fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir and kombucha into your diet. However, they are not necessarily the only answer.
“Fermented foods are nothing new to the diet; they have been around for hundreds of years.”
Harrington explains that while these foods are a source of prebiotics, there is limited research to demonstrate the impact of the probiotic content of these foods.
Fermented foods may not be for everyone though, and it should be noted that many are high in salt, which can increase blood pressure and may contain alcohol even in very small amounts.
With all of these exciting foods to add into your diet, there are also some that should be limited day-to-day. Harrington says that limiting saturated fats and artificial sweeteners are key to maintaining a healthy balance.
Artificial sweeteners are surprisingly not a good alternative to sugar either, with early research linking the effects of these to metabolic syndrome and obesity.
“It appears that artificial sweeteners could alter the human gut microbiome and have a negative impact on glucose metabolism in the body,” says Harrington.
If you’re curious about how dietary changes may help keep your gut healthy, you can explore more with a convenient home testing kit that analyses your gut microbiome. World-leading research by Microba will provide you with a detailed picture of your gut health and personalised dietary recommendations on which foods fuel the good bacteria in your gut.
There you have it — some simple tips to maintain your gut health backed by science. Next time you head to the grocery store, have a look at which fruits, vegetables and wholegrains are on sale and pick up something you haven’t tried before!
Start your journey to good gut health and learn more at microba.com.