Gut health is becoming the most talked about area of nutrition at the moment. Here is some information to get you up up to speed on gut microbiota.
Our digestive tracts are home to types of ‘living’ friendly bacteria and it is thought that these bacteria may play a part in our health and immune system as well as help reduce wind and bloating.
Its recommended to have a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in our diet – but what are they?
Prebiotics are the food ingredients which reach the large intestine unaffected by digestion and ‘feed’ the good bacteria in our gut, helping them to grow and flourish. It is not considered necessary to take a supplement of prebiotics – just include plenty of these foods in your diet; fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, wholewheat products, nuts and seeds.
Probiotics are types of ‘living’ bacteria similar to those which inhabit our digestive tract. They are naturally found in cultured or fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, aged cheese, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, miso, tempeh and kombucha, a fermented tea drink. Probiotics help to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in the intestines and support the immune system. They are also thought to be useful for people suffering from bloating, gas or flatulence and may help restore good bacteria after a course of antibiotics.
Its important to include a wide variety of foods as different foods have different nutrient and antioxidant properties which are known to be beneficial for the body. As well as the above the polyphenols (antioxidants) in fruits and vegetables are thought to be beneficial and the fatty acids in oily fish also have a role to play.
Exciting research is linking our gut microbiota with obesity, diabetes, and depression, highlighting a varied and balanced diet based around the Mediterranean diet may help to improve gut microbiota and reduce these disease symptoms.