Have tummy troubles been affecting your day-to-day life?
Taking care of your gut does not need to be complicated or require expensive pills and potions. Bianca Maree Harrington, lead dietitian at Brisbane-based gut microbiome testing company Microba, shares her top ways to balance your gut naturally.
Enjoy your coffee
Coffee consumption has been linked with an increase in the diversity of your gut bacteria. Coffee contains beneficial plant polyphenols – naturally occurring compounds – as well as soluble fibre to feed the good bacteria, so this may help to support a healthy gut. For some people, coffee can be a gut irritant, so limiting how much you consume may also be recommended.
Get the balance right
Fibre-digesting bacteria are the ones that help to reduce inflammation in the body, whereas protein digesting bacteria can increase inflammation. It's important to make sure we are feeding the good guys in our gut. You can do this by eating high amounts of fibre such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, legumes, beans and whole grains, and moderating amounts of lean protein foods consumed such as meat, fish, poultry and low-fat dairy.
Reduce artificial sweeteners
Limit your use of artificial sweeteners and try natural options such as honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup or dried fruit. Artificial sweeteners may contribute to metabolic syndrome and obesity by altering the human gut microbiome. More research is still needed in this space, but at this stage we believe that natural is best.
Try fermented foods
Fermented foods are nothing new to the diet. They do contain probiotics and some even contain prebiotic fibres, which fuel gut bacteria. Try adding some kimchi, kefir or kombucha to your diet for an extra boost. Of course, those with high blood pressure may want to check with their doctor before adding in these foods as some are high in salt.
Eat the rainbow
The best way to increase the diversity of the bacteria in your gut – which is a good thing – is to eat sufficient and diverse types of dietary fibre. Mix up your fruit and vegetable intake to match what’s in season and aim to eat different sources of wholegrains each day such as rolled oats, rice, quinoa or dense grainy bread. A diverse microbiome is a happy microbiome!
For any serious concerns about your gut, it is recommended that you see a health care professional.