8 Suggestions For Supporting Gut Health
Research shows the quality of our gut health can impact digestion, energy levels, sleep quality, skin health, the immune system and even our mood. It’s incredible to think that at one point, we thought the sole responsibility of the gut to be the digestion of food – It breaks down the food and then excretes it. That’s it. Nowadays, however, we know so much more.
What’s the deal with our digestive system?
We have 100 trillion bacteria living in our digestive tract. We also have 300 – 500 different species of bacteria in there. This is what’s referred to as the ‘gut microbiome’. They’re vital in managing a well functioning digestive system. These microbiomes help us to break down the food we eat and turn the nutrients into beneficial things our body can use.
We host a mixture of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Our bodies are generally efficient at keeping the balance of good and bad bacteria. This makes for a healthy digestive environment is known as equilibrium. Occasionally an imbalance of too much of a specific harmful bacteria can occur. Research suggests this can lead to issues within the body such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), autoimmune conditions and skin irritations.
So what can we do to keep it healthy?
Scientific research continuously indicates the close relationship between our gut health and other parts of the body. This includes connections to the brain, the heart, the skin and kidneys. The human body is so intrinsically linked that when we consider all the internal systems working together to keep us going, it’s pretty mind-blowing.
As the gut plays such a huge part in keeping us happy, we wanted to take a look at some of the natural approaches to optimising our digestive system. We’re considering which foods, fermented goods and supplements can support and promote good gut health.
Get the shopping list out!
Fruits and vegetables
Firstly, let’s start with the more obvious choices. A diet with ample fibre can aid digestion and prevent constipation. The most accessible foods to get fibre from are fruits and vegetables, wholemeal bread, beans, legumes and oats. So there’s some truth behind the old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’
Looking for more direct options? Add peas, broccoli and bananas to the shopping list. These foods contain such a good source of fibre – the kind that helps the good bacteria multiply, keeping the bad bacteria in check.
Try sourdough bread for a change! Made by fermenting dough, it’s not only artisan trendy, but it makes for very digestible bread with slow-releasing energy.
Apple Cider Vinegar
With anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, apple cider vinegar packs a healthy punch. It can aid digestion, relieve bloating and promote a healthy immune system – shame the taste isn’t so desirable! However, there are plenty of ways you can consume apple cider vinegar without it causing too much nausea straight afterwards! Add it as a salad dressing to food, drink it as a single shot mixed with lemon juice, stir it in with your favourite herbal tea or even splash a little it over some salted popcorn for that classic salt and vinegar taste!
The unpasteurised kind is the best, as this means it has not been filtered and contains gut-boosting bacteria. Our favourite choice of the stuff? Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – With The Mother, available at Boots, Holland and Barratt and various supermarket chains.
A probiotic yoghurt drink made by fermenting milk and loaded with friendly bacteria. It is drinkable on its own but can be a fantastic addition to fruit bowls, smoothies and even soups.
Like with Kombucha, it’s possible to make homemade Kefir. However, many supermarkets stock the pre-made stuff in the refrigerator sections (which could be a little easier and less time-consuming!)
What is Kombucha? It’s a fizzy, sometimes fragrant fermented tea that makes a great alternative to alcohol or hot tea – especially in the warm weather. It is brewed in a very similar style to wine and beer and has been around for thousands of years. A kombucha culture is essentially made from yeast and bacteria, put together to allow fermentation and provide us with all the health benefits! The two components needed to make kombuchas are water and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). Using the SCOBY with a tea of your choice will give it a sweet but slightly tart taste.
Never tried it? Head to Holland and Barratt and pick up a bottle of Remedy Kombucha available in Ginger Lemond, Apple Crisp or Raspberry and Lemonade flavour.
Recent studies suggest that almonds contain powerful probiotic properties. It’s understood that almonds can increase the levels of good bacteria in the gut, thanks to their rich fibre content. They also possess high levels of fatty acids and vitamin E, perfect for cell maintenance and preventing oxidative damage within the body – win-win!
A stimulating food for various reasons, but ginger is particularly potent at helping the stomach produce stomach acid – the kind that aids digestion. There are so many ways to use ginger, including smoothies, soups and stir-fries. You can also drink fresh ginger in hot water, teamed with slices of lemon and a drop of honey.
Supplements to Aid Digestion
InstructorLive offers a variety of supplements. These particular products aid digestion and overall gut health.
Digestive Enzyme Complex
Digestive Enzyme Complex offers the enzymes Bromelain, Papain, Protease, Amylase, Lipase and culinary botanicals in a delayed-release capsule shell. Designed to help protect the ingredients from stomach acidity so that they can be delivered and released further into the digestive tract where they are required.
Find out more about Digestive Enzyme Complex HERE.
Probiotic Complex – 10 Billion Live Culture
This Probiotic Complex contains a blend of six different, dairy-free bacterial strains, including bifidobacteria, lactobacillus and streptococcus PLUS fructooligosaccharides (FOS) in an acid-resistant capsule shell. Each capsule contains 10 billion live cultures.
Find out more about Probiotic Complex HERE