As flu vaccines are lined up and the steady march of winter bugs begins, it brings what we can do to boost our natural immunity into sharper focus. Nutritionist, Mary Cotter, will be sharing easy tips on this and the importance of maintaining good gut health, on our Autumn Revive Days.
So, what does ‘gut health’ mean?
It refers to the bacteria and yeasts that live predominantly in our intestines – but also in our skin, respiratory and genito-urinary systems. Each of us has our own unique community of living bacteria that are essential to our health. In fact, we consist of many more of these bacteria than actual human cells! The gut bacteria (AKA gut flora, friendly bacteria or gut microflora) are critical to:
The effective functioning of our immune system
The prevention of allergies
Mood and mental wellbeing
Synthesising B vitamins, vitamin K and short chain fatty acids (to support colon health)
Reducing risk and shortening duration of antibiotic induced diarrhoea
What we eat and the lifestyle we lead influences the levels and the diversity of these bacteria.
The more diverse our diet, the more diverse our community of bacteria and the better our health.
What is bad for gut health?
Numbers of gut bacteria can be reduced when we don’t eat enough fibre from a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts and wholegrains. Other things that negatively impact gut health is the overuse of antibiotics, alcohol, smoking, stress and medication. Probiotic supplementation should be used during and after antibiotic use.
Here are Mary’s five tips to keep you on the right track re gut health:
1. Regularly consume probiotic-rich foods e.g. kefir, kombucha, raw sauerkraut, kimchi and miso paste. Make sure they are unpasteurised and introduce them slowly.
2. Increase the variety of fibre in your diet: raw nuts, seeds such as flaxseeds, brown rice, sweet potatoes, legumes and vegetables.
3. Eat onions, garlic and leeks. These provide prebiotics – fuel for the probiotics.
4. Use FOS (fructooligosaccharide), a type of prebiotic fibre, as a natural sweetener.
5. Avoid beige refined foods such as white flour, white pasta, white bread, chips, burger buns etc. Instead focus on making each meal as colourful as possible to support the diversity of your gut flora.
Join our next Revive Days on 22nd & 23rd Sept, 27th & 28th Oct, 24th & 25th Nov to learn more and chat through changes you could make to boost your levels of good bacteria 🙂Read more Revive articles
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