Did you know you have a 10-100 trillion-strong team of microbes working away inside your gut right at this very moment?
This team (otherwise known as your gut microbiome!) regulates your immune system, influences mental health, and even creates nutrients for us to absorb and use throughout the body.
The gut microbiome plays a role in some amazing functions within our digestive system that can influence our entire body.
Related read | The Amazing Functions of the Gut Microbiome
But this crucial ecosystem is also heavily influenced, in turn, by what we decide to eat or drink.
Our gut microbiome looks after us in so many ways. The health of our mind and bodies can be affected by the populations of bacteria within our gut, and how diverse or healthy they are.
In short, we need to look after our gut microbiome — so it can look after us.
So how can we take care of our friendly, beneficial bacteria?
1. Reduce your sugar intake
We’re all very familiar with the recommendation of reducing sugar in our diet to avoid excess calories and dental damage. Official recommendations are that we should be consuming no more than 30g of free sugars a day!
Related Read | What’s all the fuss about sugar?
But did you know that sugar can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome too?
Tooth troubles and excess calories aside, too much sugar in our diet can disrupt the populations of bacteria in our gut microbiome — even creating favourable conditions for bad bacteria to thrive.
This increase in unfavourable bacteria decreases the amount of beneficial bacteria, meaning we lose out on their anti-inflammatory and protective benefits to the gut lining.
Many studies are now linking a high-sugar diet to inflammation in our gut, which ultimately reduces how effectively we absorb nutrients. But it could also lead to serious diseases too.
2. Faecal microbiota transplantation
One interesting way to improve the health of your gut microbiome is to undergo a faecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Yep, you read that correctly!
It involves introducing beneficial microbes from the faecal matter of a healthy individual to another who requires treatment. If you’re curious to know exactly how that works… you can read about it in depth on the Gut’s UK website!
Thought to have first been used in ancient China over 1000 years ago, today FMT is used as a medical treatment for people with certain gut-related conditions. However many clinics now offer it as a holistic treatment for those looking to improve their health.
3. Meet your daily prebiotic fibre needs
Of course one of the simplest (and less invasive!) solutions to improve the health of your gut microbiome is to include more fibre and prebiotics in your diet.
Prebiotics are indigestible plant fibres that feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut. They help to boost their populations and also enhance their long-term survival.
Related Read | Why is prebiotic fibre so good for you?
Food sources of prebiotic fibre include fruit and vegetables like apples, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and garlic, and also legumes. But one of the highest sources is chicory root!
For a quick prebiotic fibre fix, one can of Jamu Wild Water can provide 5g of prebiotic fibre from chicory roots — which is 100% of your daily prebiotic fibre recommendations (3-5g per day).
4. Include probiotics
Probiotic supplements and fermented foods are a great way to introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut microbiome.
Tempeh, kefir, yoghurts, kimchi, and even sauerkraut are all forms of fermented foods which can introduce valuable nutrients and microorganisms into your gut microbiome.
Just remember that if you’re introducing probiotics into your diet, they’ll need prebiotics to feed on. Otherwise, all the ‘friendly’ bacteria in the yoghurts or kefir you’re eating won’t be as effective!
5. Avoid processed foods high in artificial ingredients
Like sugar, processed foods with high quantities of artificial ingredients can have a potentially damaging effect within our gut.
Scientists are analysing the effects of these artificial ingredients on the gut microbiome in particular. Some studies have found that artificial emulsifiers have been linked to intestinal inflammation.
Artificial sweeteners seem to be particularly harmful as they can negatively alter our gut microbiome. Some studies link artificial sweeteners to glucose intolerance, which could play a role in the development of obesity. And others have discovered that they could make certain bacteria, like E. coli (naturally present in our gut) pathogenic and damaging to the wall of our intestine.
Making a conscious choice to avoid processed foods can help to keep your gut microbiome safe.
6. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
While prebiotics and probiotics are key components in gut health, simply including a wider variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet can boost your gut microbiome too.
Plant-based foods contain a wide variety of beneficial compounds, like flavonoids and phenolic acids.
Some of these compounds can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, like Bifidobacterium. For example, the polyphenols found in grapes and ginger!
Like prebiotic fibre, polyphenols in particular can interact with our gut microbiome to produce beneficial compounds.
By eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables you can create a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.
A daily dose of prebiotic fibre…
Jamu Wild Water was created with your microbiome in mind.
We use a natural, plant-based sweetener called stevia leaf to make our drinks sugar-free. But we also add 5g of prebiotic fibre too, so every can of Jamu Wild Water is a quick fibre fix that can help you boost the populations of good bacteria in your gut microbiome.
Each Jamu Wild Water flavour has its own unique combination of brilliant botanicals as well — including flavonoid-rich echinacea, vitamin C filled elderberry and antioxidant-rich dandelion.
We’ll leave you with a wonderful line from the book ‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders (which happens to give a brilliant insight into the inner workings of our digestive system!).
What we consume can effect the populations of our gut flora. So we are essentially the... “gardeners of our inner world”.
So let’s get gardening :)
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