The health of your gut influences more than your stomach, and is currently a key area of research as more and more benefits of good gut health come to light.
Boffins from Harvard Medical School report the 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, living inside your digestive system may influence everything from inside the gut and out. So how can you support its vital work?
1. Include fibre rich foods in every meal
Fibre is the part of our food that is not absorbed into our blood stream for nutrients, and ensures the smooth passage of the unnecessary parts of our food out as waste.
“Fibre ensures the appropriate peristalsis of the gut, which is the squeezing motion that propels food from the stomach and through the colon,” Dr Harvey explains. In short, a lack of fibre can lead to problems such as constipation or cramping, and poor gut health.
Plant based foods highest in fibre
includes beans, carrots, broccoli, lentils, banana, apple, sweet potato.
“If you increase your intake of fruit and veg to the recommended intake of 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables, this will increase your fibre intake and improve your gut health,” he says.
Another easy way to include them in every meal is to swap white for wholemeal varieties of rice, bread and pasta.
2. Stay hydrated
Your gut is your body’s system for digesting the essential nutrients needed from food, and this system must have water to operate and work, says Dr Ryan Harvey.
“Water forms the basis of around 70% of the volume of the cells and tissues of the gut, as well as all the necessary digestive juices and enzymes required to break down your food,” he says.
While the amount of water we need to drink each day varies from person to person, and can change depending on your activities for the day (for example, if it is a hot day and you sweat more), about 8 cups (around 2 litres) of fluid a day is ideal. .
3. Get eight hours of sleep and at least 30 minutes of exercise each day
Dr Harvey says sleep
is important part of overall health and gut health.
“When we sleep, the body takes this time to rest certain organs and repair any damage that has occurred during the day – including your gut, which slows down when you sleep, allowing it to rest and repair for the next round of digestion the following day,” he explains.
Exercise is also crucial to overall health and gut health.
“Exercise allows the body to appropriately use the nutrients and energy we have digested from our food via our gut,” he says.
There is also some evidence
to suggest exercise improves the health of the bacterial ecosystem that resides in your gut. Healthy bacteria in your gut means a healthy gut and better digestion.