5 foods for gut health

Cockburn Gazette - - WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK -

OUR di­ges­tive sys­tems are the un­sung worka­holics of our bod­ies, toil­ing around the clock to break down and ab­sorb nu­tri­ents from the food and flu­ids we con­sume.

Within this on­go­ing cy­cle, our large in­tes­tine – of­ten re­ferred to as our gut – is the of­fice hero.

Though per­haps we should say of­fice he­roes, be­cause it is ac­tu­ally the population­s of tiny or­gan­isms in our gut that keep us healthy.

These mi­cro-or­gan­isms are also known as the mi­cro­biota, gut flora or gut bac­te­ria. Strange as it may seem, your gut is home to a lot of them – bil­lions, in fact.

There many dif­fer­ent types of gut bac­te­ria, with most of us hav­ing more than 1000 dif­fer­ent species.

Even though we can’t see them with the naked eye, we can­not un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tant role gut bac­te­ria play in not only our di­ges­tive health but our im­mune sys­tem and men­tal health.

Part of their du­ties also in­volve the ab­sorp­tion of es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents, pro­tect­ing us from harm­ful bac­te­ria and even in­flu­enc­ing in­flam­ma­tion.

We spoke to Jean Hailes natur­opath San­dra Vil­lella about how to sup­port the di­ges­tive sys­tem through eat­ing ev­ery­day foods.

Her five top foods to nour­ish gut bac­te­ria are:

The nu­tri­ents in brown rice en­cour­age the growth and ac­tiv­ity of healthy gut bac­te­ria. Red and black rice are also good op­tions.

Oats con­tain a unique type of fi­bre that nour­ishes and re­stores healthy gut bac­te­ria. This makes oats a great food to eat ev­ery day and they are es­pe­cially suited to break­fast – por­ridges, muesli or a smoothie with oats.

These tiny brown, tan or golden-coloured seeds are high in fi­bre and can help to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment within the gut in which the healthy bac­te­ria want to grow and live. To en­sure fresh­ness and get the most ben­e­fit from this food, grind lin­seeds in a cof­fee or spice grinder and store the ground seeds for up to two weeks in an air­tight con­tainer in the fridge. Sim­ply sprin­kle a ta­ble­spoon or two of ground seeds over your por­ridge in the morn­ing.

Es­sen­tially, pre­bi­otics are fuel for healthy gut bac­te­ria, so it’s im­por­tant to eat enough pre­bi­otics to keep the population­s alive and healthy. Pre­bi­otics oc­cur nat­u­rally in a num­ber of ev­ery­day foods, such as gar­lic, onions, leeks, spring onions, as­para­gus, ar­ti­chokes, beet­root, broc­coli, brus­sels sprouts, cab­bage, water­cress, kale and legumes in­clud­ing chick­peas, lentils and red kid­ney beans.

An­other way to help keep your population­s of good bac­te­ria healthy is by eat­ing them.

Yo­ghurts of­ten con­tain healthy gut bac­te­ria, but it’s im­por­tant to check the la­bels. Good prod­ucts will spec­ify the type and quan­tity of good bac­te­ria. Yo­ghurt that con­tains around one bil­lion good bac­te­ria per serve is rec­om­mended.

Ke­fir is sim­i­lar to yo­ghurt but con­tains even greater amounts of healthy bac­te­ria. Many peo­ple en­joy it as part of their break­fast – added to smooth­ies or with fruit.

Pub­lished with the per­mis­sion of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, 1800 532 642, jean­hailes.org.au

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