Unless you’d been living under a rock, you’d know that gut health is in – prebiotics and probiotics are practically trending. But where exactly does microbiome come into it? We hit up Fiona Tuck, author of The Forensic Nutritionist for all her expertise.
When the microbiome is healthy, it sends normal appetite signals, promotes healthy digestion and sugar cravings are low. However, if the gut is out of whack, it can upset the natural healthy functioning of our intestines which also affects health and well-being. Poor gut function has been linked to depression, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, autism and chronic fatigue.
When bad bacteria is present in the gut, your microbiome is high in yeast and sugar, which sends signals or ‘cravings’ to your brain which causes us to eat more of these foods to promote the growth of the bad bacteria. The only way to take back control of these bad bugs is to temporarily eliminate their energy source - sugar and yeasts.
Possible signed your gut is not healthy:
- Food intolerances
- Histamine reactions
- Skin disorders
- Unexplained fatigue
- Ridged fingernails
Here are 5 steps to maintain and restore a healthy gut:
1. Remove toxins from your diet.
Processed foods, artificial chemicals and environmental toxins such as BPA plastics, plastic food wrapping and non-filtered drinking water.
2. Eat organic when possible.
Although it’s not always easy, minimising pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables may be beneficial to restoring gut health. If you are shopping on a budget, I recommend following the ‘Dirty Dozen’ principles, which includes focusing on buying organic apples, peaches strawberries, blueberries - or basically any fruit without a thick peel (like bananas, avocados, mangoes, etc).
Alternatively wash your fruit and vegetables prior to eating if you are able to purchase organic produce. Organic foods are believed to contain higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds compared to their non-organic counterparts.
3. Limit food additives.
Many so-called healthy foods such as coconut milk, plant milks and gluten-free, paleo-style foods may appear healthy but check to see what additives they contain. Common additives to watch out for: carrageenan, xanthin gym, guar gum, soy lectin.
4. Increase prebiotic intake.
Prebiotic fibre from foods such as artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onions and greens help to maintain the good gut bacteria. Eating plenty of fresh vegetables helps to supply the good gut bacteria with the necessary fuel they need to keep alive.
5. Increase probiotic intake.
Probiotics will help to inhibit bad bacterial invasion, aid healthy mucus production, enhance gut function and keep our immune system strong. Consider increased fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha and probiotic natural yoghurt.