What makes a healthy gut?

With all the information about the importance of gut health it can get very confusing very quickly!

So I thought it is time to cover the basics.

Research has shown that there are a few fundamental components to what makes a gut healthy. Firstly, your gut microbiome needs to have DIVERSITY. This means that the more different types of bacteria you have, the better.

The other important factor is to have a high amount of bacteria that are anti-inflammatory. Having anti-inflammatory bacteria will keep inflammation low and enable your gut to heal and repair itself (if this is needed).

How do you create more diversity?

The simple way of creating diversity in your gut microbiome is to eat a VARIETY of wholefoods. The easiest way to think about it is by picturing lots of little seeds in your gut. And each seed needs specific foods to allow it to grow. If you keep eating apples you will only be feeding the seeds that grow from apples. But if you added bananas to the mix, you will feed another type of seed that grows from bananas.

The recommendation is to eat up to 40 different type of wholefoods per week. It seems like a lot, but if you do buy apples, buy different varieties (Jonathan, Fuji, Pink Lady etc.). Each type counts as one. This is also the same for capsicum. If you eat red, yellow and green capsicum, you have included 3 different types of wholefoods to your list.

Examples of wholefoods:

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • rice
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • grains

To make it easier for yourself, I have included a table that you can print off to check off what wholefoods you have eaten during the week.

The other way of feeding the good bacteria in your gut is by consuming pre-biotic foods. Prebiotic foods are basically food for your gut microbes. The main prebiotic compounds that feed you gut are:

  • FOS- Fructo-oligosaccharides
  • GOS- Galacto-oligosaccharides
  • PHGG- Partially Hyrdolysed Guar Gum

Foods that are high in FOS include: asparagus, banana, barley, chicory, garlic, globe artichoke, leek, onion rye and wheat.

Foods that are high in GOS are: beetroot, broccoli, chick peas, fennel, lentils, oats, onion, ryebread

Other prebiotic foods include: brown rice, carrots, back currants, dark cocoa, green tea and almonds

Not only will prebiotics provide food for your gut microbes, they also will promote the production of short chain fatty acids. SCFA’s decrease the risk of colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and insulin resistance.

Now that we have the diversity stuff sorted. Let’s take a look at the anti-inflammatory bacteria. The following bacteria are considered to be anti-inflammatory bacteria (but not limited to):

  • Bifidobacteria
  • Lactobacillus
  • Roseburia
  • Ruminoococcus
  • Akkermansia
  • Faecalbacterium
  • Blautia
  • Coprococcus
  • Eubacterium

But how do you know which type of bacteria you have?

The only possible way of actually knowing of who lives in your gut is by having a stool test that tests the DNA of your gut microbes. Research on the gut microbiome is forever evolving, and new studies are covering exciting developments each week on the importance of a healthy gut. The tests that I use in my clinic are Ubiome Explorer and Microba. You can order them online and I will be able to interpret them for you.

In the mean time you can begin to consume anti-inflammatory foods such as the list above or reduce the amount of additive & preservatives, saturated animal fat and refined carbohydrates.

If you feel that you would like to know who lives in your gut and make sure that you have the correct levels of the good guys, contact me below and I will be happy to help.