The Contents of our Gut
Our gut contains trillions of bacteria that are beneficial for our health and known as our ‘gut microbiota’. Although some of us typically consider bacteria to be ‘bad’, not all bacteria are! Most of the bacteria in our digestive system are good/friendly bacteria. Where do these microorganisms live? The majority of them live in the lower part of the gut, called the bowel. Here is everything you need to know about Gut Health.
Why is it important?
There are many reasons why we should try and maintain a healthy gut. Our friendly bacteria can have a variety of health benefits such as:
- Helping Digestion: The gut microbiota plays an important role in digestion, by breaking down
carbohydrates, proteins and fats, helping us to absorb nutrients.
- Vitamins: Our friendly gut bacteria can synthesise vitamins for us to use. These vitamins include vitamin K which is important for blood clotting and bone health, Folate, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B5, all of which are important for our energy metabolism.
- Immune system: Our gut bacteria contain 70% of the immune cells made in our body. They help to boost the immune system by destroying harmful bacteria in our bodies, stimulating our immune response.
- Diseases: There is evidence to support the protective role of our friendly bacteria and disease. For example, they can reduce the risk of Irritable bowel disease, autoimmune disease, and obesity.
Tips on How to Keep Your Gut Healthy
Our lifestyle and diet can directly affect our gut health. Healthier lifestyle and diet choices can help promote the growth of good gut bacteria.
Eat More Fibre!
Our gut bacteria love fibre! Fibre is known as an indigestible carbohydrate meaning it is difficult for us to digest.
There are two types of fibre ‘soluble’ and ‘insoluble’.
Soluble fibre is fermentable and found in foods such as:
Insoluble fibre is partially fermented and found in:
Probiotics and Prebiotics
We have all heard about Prebiotics and Probiotics, but what exactly are they?
Probiotics contain live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast, which can help the composition of the
bacteria in your gut. One of the best sources of probiotics in yogurt, as it contains live bacteria beneficial for our health.
Prebiotics are different to probiotics in that they do not contain any live microorganisms, instead, they are made of plant fibres that stimulate the growth of bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics can be found in fruits and vegetables, especially foods containing fibre.
Keep Stress Levels at Bay!
High levels of stress can have a negative effect on our bodies. It can be especially harmful to our gut by changing the levels of bacteria. Healthy eating and physical activity can also help you to relax.
Try to limit high fat and high sugar foods
Diets high in saturated fat and sugar but low in fibre, fruits and veg, can have negative effects on our bacteria. This diet is also known as the ‘Western Diet’ and can promote inflammation and increase the risk of diseases. Foods’ high in saturated fat and sugar include processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, butter and cream.
Try and opt for unsaturated fats instead of saturated fat for example swapping red meat for oily fish, cakes and biscuits for fruit and nuts, and use olive oil instead of butter when frying.