Gut health has become a top wellness trend recently due to a blend of scientific discoveries, media coverage and consumer interest in holistic well-being.
The term "gut health" broadly refers to the function and balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Here’s why there's such a frenzy around it:
Growing Research around microbiome
Scientific studies have shed light on the vital role our gut microbiome plays in overall health. The microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and other life forms.
Researchers have found that these organisms influence digestion, immunity and even mental health, through what is known as the gut-brain axis.
Probiotics and Fermented Foods
There has been a surge in interest in probiotics (live beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (fibres that feed these bacteria), which are thought to support a healthy gut.
Coupled with the resurgence of fermented foods known to contain natural probiotics, such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi, more people are actively seeking these products.
There is no clear definition of gut health, and it can mean something different for researchers, medical professionals and the community. We refer to gut health as having a healthy gut microbiome and limited digestive symptoms.
About 200 different species of bacteria, viruses and fungi live in your large intestine. The bacteria and other microorganisms in your gut are known as your gut microbiome. The bacteria help to break down food, turning it into nutrients your body can use.
Certain types of bacteria in your gut may contribute to some diseases. Some microorganisms are harmful to our health, but many are beneficial and necessary for a healthy body.
We are learning that the variety of bacteria in your gut is an important indicator of the health of your microbiome.
The health of your gut can impact both your physical and mental health.
In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, we often forget to consider the importance of gut health. However, it's gaining traction as more people witness the transformative impact a few dietary adjustments can have on their well-being.
A well-balanced gut microbiome is essential for various bodily functions, including digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system regulation.
It even plays a vital role in our mental clarity and skin health. Nicole Sherwin, the founder of Eco Diva Natural Superfood Skincare, shares some intriguing insights and practical tips to nurture good gut health through nutritious eating and plant-based supplements.
Our gut houses trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These tiny inhabitants are critical for breaking down food, producing vitamins, and upholding a robust immune system.
The gut-brain axis reveals the intricate link between gut health and mental well-being. A healthy gut often leads to a brighter mood and improved mental health.
Diverse diet, diverse microbiome
Embracing a varied diet rich in plant-based proteins and micronutrients nurtures a diverse microbiome, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Top tips for good gut health are:
Embrace plant-based foods
Load up on fibre-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Include a rainbow of fruits, this helps sustain a flourishing gut flora. Fibre serves as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting a thriving microbiome.
Include plant-based proteins
Opt for plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, tofu and quinoa. These not only provide essential amino acids but also contribute to a healthier gut environment.
Supercharge with superfoods
Incorporate nutrient-dense superfoods like kale, blueberries, and broccoli into your diet. These power-packed foods contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that support overall health, including gut health.
Prebiotics for gut nourishment
Include prebiotic-rich foods such as garlic, onions, leeks and bananas. Prebiotics act as food for beneficial bacteria, fostering a robust microbiome.
Integrate baobab for gut wellness
Baobab, derived from the African baobab tree, is rich in fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Including baobab in your diet can aid digestion and contribute to a healthy gut.
Consider incorporating supplements like probiotics, prebiotics and multivitamins to support gut health. Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria, while multivitamins fill potential nutrient gaps in your diet.
Clean, fresh water is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. It helps in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, ensuring the smooth functioning of your digestive system.
Foods to avoid
Limit processed foods (anything that is prepackaged or fast foods), sugary snacks, and excessive red meat consumption, as these can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome.
“Cultivating a healthy gut is a holistic journey that involves mindful eating and incorporating gut-friendly foods and supplements into your lifestyle,” said Sherwin.
“By adopting a plant-based diet rich in fibre, plant-based proteins, and superfoods, along with strategic supplementation, you can foster a diverse and thriving gut microbiome, laying the foundation for overall well-being.
Remember, a happy gut is the key to a happy and healthy life.”