Increasing research is showing us the link between Gut Health and overall health. It’s more than just how your tummy is feeling. Many of us may experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, irregular bowels, or even stomach pain when our gut health is not at its best, however, gut health has been linked to impacting much more than that, for example, promoting a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, effective digestion and more.
Probiotics and prebiotics
The gut is made up of healthy bacteria and ‘probiotics’, which help break down the food we consume. Probiotics can be found in certain fermented foods, drinks and supplements such as:
• Kefir (a type of fermented milk)
• Green peas
• Pickles (achaar)
These healthy bacteria require food to break down which is called ‘prebiotics’ to release their nutrition and benefits in the body. Prebiotics are usually in the form of dietary fiber and are high in some of these food examples:
Vegetables: Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion, asparagus, beetroot, fennel bulb (saunf), green peas, snow peas, sweetcorn, savoy cabbage
Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans
Fruit: Custard apples, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, rambutan, grapefruit, pomegranate. Dried fruit (e.g, dates, figs)
Bread/cereals/ snacks: Bajra, Barley, rye bread, rye crackers, pasta, couscous, wheat bran, wheat bread (including whole wheat roti), oats
Nuts and seeds: Cashews, pistachio nuts
Other: Human breast milk
As these foods are high in fiber, they may produce more gas and wind if you are not used to a high fiber diet. It is recommended to slowly increase the amount if your body is not used to a regular intake. Note the dietary recommendations of fiber are at least 25-30g fiber per day (unless medically advised otherwise), which many of us may not be meeting.
What could I do to increase my fiber intake?
• Include a high-fiber breakfast cereal
• Add a few tablespoons of unprocessed bran or psyllium husks (isabgol) to cereal, soups, curries, yogurt, smoothies, cakes, and biscuits
• Add nuts, dried fruits, and seeds to cereals
• Eat wholegrain bread or use whole grain flours
• Eat fruit and vegetable skins wherever possible without peeling
• Snack on fruit, nuts, and seeds
• Choose foods that are higher in fiber
• Add legumes and lentils regularly, even to salads
An important point to note is we also need to keep well hydrated with a regular fiber intake, make sure you have plenty of water throughout the day to keep things moving.
Other factors that may alter your gut health
Along with food and drink choices, it is also important to make sure you have adequate sleep, monitor alcohol intake, and note some medicines such as antibiotics that may alter your gut health. Stress can also have an impact on your gut health, if you need assistance to manage this reach out to someone who can help.
If you have any ongoing symptoms or symptoms out of the ordinary consult with your doctor.
Please note this advice is of a general nature. If you have any concerns or queries you should get tailored advice from an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and always consult with your General Practitioner before making any changes.
By Accredited Practicing Dietitian Deevya Gupta| W: www.abcofnutrition.com.au