Research has shown that the gut microbiome is a hub of activity that can influence the health of other organs, including the brain and skin, through the thousands of molecules it produces daily including vitamins, hormones, and short-chain fatty acids. Our gut microbiome also breaks down food components the body can’t, such as dietary fibre. Not only that but our microbes educate our immune system (of which 70% sits along the gut) to react appropriately and keep things in check. Having a healthy microbiome is the key to a healthy gut.
What kind of things should we feed our gut microbes to keep them happy?
A healthy diet plays a key role in maintaining a healthy human microbiome. Be sure to include lots of plant-based foods in your diet. Think wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit (including fresh, frozen, dried, and canned) and veg, legumes and pulses, herbs, and spices. Focusing on these foods will ensure you get plenty of fibre and naturally occurring prebiotics, as well as vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. If you enjoy fermented foods, be sure to include these too!
Fibre is a type of carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, and pulses. It is not broken down in the upper part of the gut, but lands in the large intestine where it feeds and fuels your gut microbes, making stools easier to pass and helping to relieve constipation. Fibre is the most important nutrient you can eat for your digestive health.
It's important to take it slow when increasing your fibre intake to give your gut time to adjust. Learn more here about how you can increase your fibre intake.
Impact of the gut on your overall wellbeing
Keeping your gut happy with the things it needs is important for your overall health and wellbeing. How we treat our gut microbes determines how they behave; if you look after your gut, it will look after you. If we don't prioritize our gut health, our microbes can start to suffer which can have implications for overall health later down the line. If they are well fed and happy, our microbes produce molecules that are beneficial to us. If they’re not, they may start to produce molecules that are not so favourable to us.
Many things play a role in the health of your gut and gut microbes. Factors such as your diet, how much sleep you get, what medications you take and how stressed you are, all impact your gut health. Speak to the team at Meaghers if you have any questions in relation to the microbiome and gut health.