It’s been a popular topic over the last years: “How To Improve Your Gut Health“. You might have been blasted with ads on Facebook or even your local grocery store, stating certain foods and drinks aid gut health. But, what evidence supports this? Actually hold on, before we get into the source and evidence of a gut-healthy diet – can we take a step back and explain what is gut health actually?! Let’s take a look.
What Is Gut Health?
When we speak about the gut, we are specifically referring to the large intestine in your body where all our microbiomes live. Here’s the thing though; there’s no clear definition of what gut health actually means? Is it the relief of pain from the abdomen? No bloating? Unwanted diseases (eg: Crohn’s disease)? What we do know for sure is that more and more evidence has been emerging that our guts microbes affect everything from how our body processes the sugar in our diet, to our risk of cancer, depression and dementia. So this is an important area we need to be aware of! So, let’s dig into how do we improve our gut health and what we can digest/drink to improve it?
How Can I Improve My Gut Health?
The million-dollar question! Simply ingesting healthy bacteria won’t necessarily cause these bacteria to permanently live in, or colonise, the gut. For example, Kombucha, a fermented tea beverage has been bolstered of late to increase gut health when in fact there is no direct evidence or test trials supporting that this is solely responsible for gut health. Not to say Kombucha is not healthy, but there is more to this. To gain any long-term health benefits from foods containing live bacteria, known as probiotics, the current research suggests you would need to take them continuously.
So Where Does This Leave Us?
Rather than focusing on one food, evidence suggests what’s best for our gut tells us we’d be better off looking at improving our overall diet. Our advice is to eat a variety of foods, including those high in fibre, and to avoid excessive alcohol. General principles of a healthy lifestyle apply too: avoid substance abuse (including smoking, off-label prescription drugs and illicit drugs), exercise regularly, take care of your mental well-being and manage your stress. You’ll be surprised how effective focusing on just a few key changes can improve your overall gut health, things like
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating slowly
- Staying hydrated
All these combined are likely to be more helpful for gut health than consuming the latest superfood or overpriced smoothie.
I hope this cleared up some things for you! Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions 🙂