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Top gut boosting foods for a healthy gut balance

EMMA WILLIAMS

Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Emma Williams, dishes up the top gut boosting foods that are essential to a healthy gut balance.

I am a firm believer that we are what we eat. Increasing evidence is emerging now days about gut health and how vitally important it is to our health and wellbeing … maybe even the key.

The gut wall houses over seventy percent of the cells that make up your immune system and performs some of the most important tasks required for life, including breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, keeping out toxins, and producing nutrients, so if you want to fix your health, you need to start with your gut and populating it with some favorable flora.
This is where the consumption of favourable flora comes in. It has been found that the bacterium that lives in peoples’ guts is surprisingly responsive to change in diet. Changes can happen incredibly fast in the human microbiome—a significant shift can occur within three or four days of altering what you eat. Within days, it has been observed that there is not only a variation in the abundance of different kinds of bacteria, but in the kinds of genes they were expressing.

Besides your brain, your gut is the only organ with its own nervous system. Your small intestine alone has as many neurons as your spinal cord. Your gut nerve cells produce 95 percent of serotonin, and every class of neurotransmitter in your brain also resides in your gut. In fact, it contains more neurotransmitters than your brain.

A very simple and appealing approach is to feed your bacteria the right food and learn how to fertilise your own healthy inner garden. It is important to feed yourself whole, fresh, real foods which will allow good gut bacteria to thrive. Feed them junk, and bad bugs flourish, resulting in leaky gut, toxic overload, and inflammation. Fat-regulating hormones like insulin become out of whack, leaving you craving more junk food. The good news is that your microbiome changes with every bite of food, so you can positively alter gut flora beginning with your very next meal. If you haven’t jumped on the fermented foods bandwagon, it’s time. Foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi are probiotic powerhouses that will nourish the bacteria in your gut and are incredibly low in kilojoules, so aim for a serving a day.

Although I'm not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception – especially if you don't eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

Probiotic waters can be a convenient and effective way to get your daily gut boost and is also an excellent option if you’re lactose intolerant or seeking a lower kilojoule drink. For example, PERKii probiotic water is packed with billions of armour-plated probiotics (meaning they have greater survival capabilities through the stomach acid to the gut) and also contain the lactobacillus casei strain which has been scientifically linked to a whole host of health benefits.

Some sour cream and cream substitutes such as yogurt can also contain probiotics. It is important to note that probiotics aren’t going to do as much if you’re living on coffee, cake, and KFC. Pathogens love sugar and processed carbs, so you need stay away from both. If you generally follow a healthy diet, with the majority of your intake being raw fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds your gut health should already be flourishing and you should be feeling the glow of inner health.

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