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December 2021 Newsletter
Do you think bacteria are bad? While bacteria and other microbes (including fungi and viruses) are often thought of as sources of disease, many of them actually play an essential role in keeping us healthy. Most of the trillions of microbes contained in our body are beneficial. They are called probiotics. Others can be harmful, especially when they multiply. The most dense microbe population is in the gut, where they play a critical role in digestion, immune function and weight regulation. Think that there are approximately 100 billion bacteria (single-celled microbes) to every gram of intestinal content.
Gut health refers to the balance of micro-organisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining their right balance is vital for physical and mental health. Bacteria in the small and large intestine make some of the enzymes needed to break down food which is turned into nutrients the body can use. In our Newsletter this month, we provide you with better understanding and advice on how to handle your gut health.
Types of food for gut health
Modifying our diet is essential for a healthy gut microbiome (the collection of beneficial bacteria present in our bodies). Diet and gut health are very closely linked. What we eat is not just nutrition for us, but it also feeds the bacteria that live in our body. What we eat can quickly
change our microbes. The question is what type of food helps our good gut bacteria to function well. Not surprisingly we should avoid, or at least reduce, processed foods, high-fat foods, and foods high in refined sugars because they destroy good bacteria and promote growth of damaging bacteria. In parallel there are a number of foods we can eat that actively promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, contributing to our overall health. So-called prebiotics provide food meant to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the gut, encouraging these necessary bacteria to multiply in the gut. Probiotics feed generally on non-digestible carbohydrates. These beneficial aliments include:
1. High-fiber foods, such as beans, wholegrains, peas, oats, bananas, apples, berries,
nuts, asparagus, avocado, artichoke and leeks.
2. Garlic and onion, which may have some anti-cancer and immune system-enhancing
properties closely tied to some of the primary functions of the gut.
3. Fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, live yoghurt, miso, and kefir are great dietary
sources of probiotics.
4. Collagen-boosting foods, such as bone broth and salmon.
Things we can do for our gut health
Apart from the diet itself making other simple lifestyle changes can alter the diversity and number of microbes in your gut for the better.
1. Lower the stress level: chronic high levels of stress are hard on your whole body, including your gut. Some way to lower stress may include meditation, walking, getting a massage, spending time with friends or family, decreasing caffeine intake, yoga.
2. Get enough sleep: not getting enough or sufficient quality of sleep can have serious impacts on your gut health, which can in turn contribute to more sleep issues.
3. Eat slowly: chewing food thoroughly and eating meals more slowly help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients.
4. Stay hydrated: drinking plenty of water has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
5. Take a probiotic supplement: it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They are greatest used as a part of a day-by-day well-being regime.
6. Check for food intolerances: if you have symptoms such as cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and acid reflux, you may be suffering from a food intolerance. If you are able to identify a food that is contributing to your symptoms, you may see a positive change in your digestive health by changing your eating habits.
The incredible complexity of the gut and its importance to our health is a topic of increasing research in the medical community. Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated close links between gut health and our entire health picture, from digestion, to immune function, energy level and hormone balance. If you take the time to repair, balance and nourish your gut, you have the potential to see an impact on your whole body.
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