Foods that heal the gut microbiota

The 'gut' is a rave word at the moment and for a great reason, many scientists and doctors are discovering how important the gut is to our overall health and the massive impact it makes on our day to day lives. With this in mind I thought it mandatory to write a post on foods that can help to restore and balance your gut microbes....

What is the gut microbiota? 

Talk of the gut, digestion, poop and all other things like that have really become big in the last few years in science and it's starting to become much more mainstream with all sorts of health practitioners writing books on how we can improve our gut health. But what is the gut microbiota? Well it is also known as your 'gut flora' and is the place where microbes (i'm talking billions/trillions) live in our intestine. There are in fact more of these bacteria than there are of our own so it's pretty vital that we pay them a lot of attention. It may sound pretty horrible to think of bacteria living inside us but we need these guys to survive, there are good and bad bacteria living in the digestive tract and we would be pretty useless without them. 

What does it do? 

The gut flora plays a pretty important part in your body, and not just in one area but in many. The gut is known as the 'second brain' and there have been several studies that show there is a direct connection between the brain and the gut. The gut flora also helps us to digest some of the more tricky foods, produces vitamins B and K and tries to fight off the bad bacteria. It is essential that we try and keep our gut flora as diverse and healthy as possible as an unstable flora have shown links to Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Diabetes and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. So, here are 5 foods that can help you to rebalance your gut and keep it as healthy as possible....

1. Cranberries 

Recent studies have shown that cranberries may be beneficial to our gut. There are sugars in the cranberry cell wall that our body cannot digest called xylogucans, so as a result they are sent into the intestine when bacteria gets to nibble on it instead and break it down. This sugar has been shown to help the good bacteria in our gut and keep feeding it the nutrients it needs. 

2. Kefir 

If you haven't heard the word 'probiotic' recently you haven't been scrolling through social media enough, it's everywhere. Probiotics are a substance that stimulates the growth of good bacteria in your gut, so when things are going a bit topsy turvy down there it's important to try and rebalance with probiotic. The issue comes with buying probiotic supplements; as there are no restrictions on the supplements some may be beneficial whilst others are a load of crap and not worth your money. This is why your best bet is to get probiotics through food. Kefir is a type of fermented milk (similar to yoghurt) but has a sour kick to it. With around 30 strains of good bacteria it is great for rebalancing the gut and as the lactose has already been broken down some people that are usually lactose intolerant don't have difficulty with it. However be's not for the faint hearted. 

3. Kombucha 

Another fermented favourite of 2017 is Kombucha. This is made from fermented black tea, sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria & yeast). Like Kefir, Kombucha is a known probiotic and can help to restore your gut back to good health, as well as having antioxidant benefits, but be careful when buying shop bought Kombucha, they can add horrific amounts of sugar to make it taste better. 

4. Yoghurt 

We've all seen a yoghurt advert that states that it will improve bloating and help the gut with bifidos whatever, but most commercial yoghurts don't have anywhere near enough bacteria to make any difference. If you want to get some good bacteria you should try a farmer's market and get hold of some fresh yoghurt with live cultures, or give it a go yourself! 

5. Fruit & Veg 

This little duo basically solve most problems when it comes to diet and people will always recommend that you eat more of them. Eating a diverse range of fruit and veg means a more diverse gut which is what you want. Try the rainbow method, have fruit and veg in a variety of colours each week and make your meals more exciting. 

If you want to know more about gut health here are some suggestions of books i've read and found interesting... 

The Clever Guts Diet: Dr Michael Mosley

Gut: Giulia Enders

The Diet myth: Tim Spector



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