How do you build a healthy gut?

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How do you build a healthy gut?

How is your gut health? Do you focus on making sure that you are getting enough dietary fibre each day? Is there any family history of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation, or bowel cancer? With more and more evidence emerging that our gut health is closely linked to our overall health and immune function, ensuring we are nourishing it with the right nutrients is one of the most powerful things we can do to improve our wellbeing. 

As we celebrate World Digestive Health Day on May 29th, there is no better time to take stock of our own gut health.

1. Focus on fibre

One of the easiest ways we can all positively influence the health of our gut is to ensure we get enough dietary fibre. Not only does the right mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre ensure that our digestive tract works efficiently and keeps us regular, but an optimal intake of fibre is also linked to healthy gut microflora, helping to lower cholesterol levels and allowing us to feel lighter and more active. An adult requires 25-30g of fibre each day to keep the digestive system healthy and help to reduce the risk of constipation, some types of cancer and diverticular disease. In order to get this much fibre, you will need to consume at least two pieces of fruits like bananas which contain 3g of fibre per serve, 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 serves of wholegrains such as oats, wholegrain or rye bread, quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat. 

2. Feed your gut right

We know that it’s not only our fibre intake that nourishes our stomach, but also what we feed  it with. Found in various food ingredients, prebiotics promote the growth and function of different types of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics found in various fibrous foods move through the digestive tract undigested and then act to feed the good bacteria promoting their growth and optimising gut balance. As a result, the gut is healthier and better able to absorb nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract. 

There are a wide range of foods that naturally contain prebiotics, in particular aromatic vegetables including onions, leeks and celery, as well as wheat bran, soy beans, rye based breads and green bananas. While ripe bananas offer the health benefits of 3-5g of dietary fibre per serve, which is still important for health, green bananas in particular offer a significant dose of the powerful prebiotic, resistant starch linked to a number of positive health outcomes.

3. Give your gut the bugs it needs

Known as the ‘good bacteria’, probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the human digestive tract that improve the balance of healthy bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to reduce digestive symptoms such as constipation and bloating, help restore gut flora after consuming a course of antibiotics (antibiotics can kill the good bacteria naturally found in the gut) and rebalance the bacteria required for optimal nutrient absorption. It is thought that poor dietary patterns, along with the stress of modern lives, mean our gut bugs take a beating and as such making sure we are getting a regular dose of various probiotics is a powerful step towards optimal health. 

Probiotics can be found in various food sources, including fermented drinks and yoghurts. It’s been shown just 1-2 serves a day can reduce bloating in sensitive stomachs. For those individuals opposed to yoghurts or milk-based drinks, probiotics are also available in supplement form, which can be an effective way to get your daily dose of ‘good gut health’.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here