It might not look it, but your gut is a total genius. Not only does it keep everything happening in the digestion department, but it’s now believed that our guts also dictate our health and happiness as much as our genes do. Mind. Blown. We can’t upgrade our genes (more’s the pity), but we can upgrade our microbiome – the tiny living organisms that take residence in your gut. Best of all, taking steps to better gut health is actually pretty easy.
Feeding your inner genius
A genius like your gut, really deserves some TLC! And there’s some pretty simple steps you can take to improve your gut health by improving your microbiome. Micro-what-now? Microbiome is the collection of microorganisms (like tiny little creatures) living in your intestines – there’s a lot of them rammed in there – about 100 trillion (!) all with different jobs to do. A healthy gut has lots of diverse ‘good’ bacteria that can fight off the ‘bad’ bacteria. The food we eat has a tremendous influence on the types of bacteria living in the gut. It’s our duty to love and care for these good guys – just like we would our favourite pet – by feeding them their favorite foods, and limiting anything that can slow them down or make them sluggish like ultra-processed foods.
Have you neglected your gut a little? Fear not!
If your gut has taken the brunt over the years and is feeling all a little bit broken, with a few changes, you can begin to help your gut in no time. The great thing about your gut is that scientists reckon you can literally change the microbiome within 2 to 4 days. Of course, long term lifestyle changes are what will really count, but it’s great to know you can get to work on it and make a difference really quickly – here are some suggestions:
Reduce Processed Foods
The best thing to do is try reducing inflammatory foods that impact your gut flora like processed fats and sugar from your diet. Many processed foods contain high number of gut irritants. Gluten can also be a real problem for some, irritating the gut wall and preventing digestion.
Being conscious of your alcohol intake and keeping the intake moderate can help heal your gut. A heavy night can literally flush away swathes of the little fellas trying to look after us and then we have to start building them up all over again.
Easier said than done in today’s world but it could be as simple as taking more time to do whatever de-stresses you – it could be traditional methods like yoga, meditation, cooking from scratch or it could be mastering the headstand! Whatever floats your boat and helps you feel calm and happy.
But don’t be a sheep! Every gut is different so what irritates someone else’s gut may not be your worst offender. In the same way some people have a REALLY annoying little bro but others don’t, try to find what irritates your gut (keeping a food diary is a great help) and take it out of the weekly equation. Not your brother, just the gut irritant.
Setting up your gut bacteria for their future
So, now that you’ve removed the irritants, stopped eating junk food, become a ‘zen’ master and gone tee-total (yeh, right.. think moderation instead!) now you can focus on topping up the gut with some of its fave nutrients:
Eat More Fiber
Fiber has long been linked to good digestive health as fiber catapults food through the digestive system and keeps things moving – which is a very good thing. Certain types of fiber also feed the good bacteria in your gut. Read more on fiber here.
Prebiotic fiber is your guts favorite type! Think of it like fertilizer for all of the good bacteria, helping it flourish. You can find prebiotics in food like bananas, asparagus, leeks and Genius Gut Lovin’ range.
Probiotics / Eat More Plants
Achieving an optimal balance of good and bad gut bacteria should be front of mind and feeding the bacteria with a diverse array of nutrients from a variety of plant foods should do the trick. Gut bacteria is pretty epic so if you’re intrigued you can read more here.
Exercise helps to keep us to keep regular, which is good news for our guts. One recent study showed that people who had a regular exercise program improved the healthy bacteria in their gut. They also found that when the same people stopped exercising for just 6 weeks they lost all the benefit gained. So, however you move, keep at it!
An easy peasy first step to improve your gut health
Close your eyes and think about what you ate yesterday. And over the course of last week. Achieving better gut health can be easy with some super simple swaps for food that you already eat. Eating yoghurt for breakfast? Make sure it’s a probiotic one, or even upgrade it to Kefir. Steak for dinner? Try swapping it for white or oily fish which is full of protein and much easier to digest. Sandwich at lunch? Upgrade it to Genius Gut Lovin’ bread. The likelihood is there’s scope to make some pretty simple changes for better gut health.
To get you started on your healthy gut mission, there is one number to keep in mind – 30. It is recommended you eat 30g of fiber a day and 30 different types of plants a week. Try swapping your usual bread for a high fiber alternative. And instead of eating the same veg all week, shake it up a little – mushrooms on Monday, squash on Tuesday, watermelon on Wednesday… You get the idea! And remember you are aiming for 30 different kinds of plants. There are also some gut hero foods you can check out here.