Wondering why gut health is so important and how to improve yours through diet and supplements? Our expert nutritionist Shona Wilkinson explains how probiotics and prebiotics influence your gut health, aid digestion and improve your gut microbiome. Learn everything you need to know about gut health and five easy ways to promote beneficial bacteria through simple additions to your diet. Whether you're looking for ways to improve digestive health conditions or want to help your healthy bacteria flourish naturally, our top tips are simple steps to a healthy, happy gut.
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What are probiotics and how do they influence gut health?
Probiotics are live bacteria that maintain a healthy gut and digestive system. They help send food through your gut by affecting the nerves that control gut movement. There is an abundance of illnesses that probiotics can help treat, such as irritable bowel syndrome, (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, urinary health, bloating, seasonal allergies and colds and even skin conditions such as eczema.
Unbalanced gut flora has been known to contribute towards certain illnesses. These diseases are thought to include obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Why is gut health so important?
Gut health is crucial to maintaining overall health and wellbeing. A healthy gut wards off infectious agents like bad bacteria and viruses. As a healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, they are crucial in maintaining our immune system and mental function.
What foods should I eat for a healthy gut?
1. Include more fermented foods in your diet
You can find the probiotic lactobacillus in fermented foods like Sauerkraut and kimchi. These probiotics can balance potentially harmful bacteria and strengthen your immune system, preventing gastrointestinal and upper respiratory infections.
2. Boost probiotics with prebiotics
Prebiotics are the fuel of good gut bacteria. You can add these naturally to your diet with fibre-based fruits like bananas, plant-based foods like fax seeds and legumes such as chickpeas, peanuts and black beans.
3. Eat dairy products like yogurt
Yoghurts include the most popular probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Bifidobacterium is a strain of good bacteria that can help prevent inflammation and provide protection from intestinal infections, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even depression. You can find it in most dairy products.
4. Add high dietary fibre rich foods to your plate
Asparagus, leeks and onions are rich in dietary fibre, including prebiotic FOS which promotes probiotic growth. These foods are also high in numerous other vitamins and minerals while being very low in calories, helping with weight loss.
5. Probiotics can help prevent bloating in women
Bloating is commonly found among women especially in during their menstrual cycle. Women can look towards several probiotic supplements to assist them with bloating.