With more research being regularly made available about the importance of gut health, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, confused – perhaps even exhausted by the information overload. Maintaining good gut health doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.
Professor Terry Bolin, gastroenterologist and Founder of The Gut Foundation, says it’s crucial for Australians to get their regular doses of fibre & probiotics .“The Gut Foundation shares a passion for improving the gut health of people across the country,” he said. Following these 6 simple steps can help support your digestive system, providing an easy way to incorporate them into your diet.
Below you’ll find our six-step guide to good gut health. A little tweak to your diet here and there, you’ll be on the path to a happy and healthy gut.
Fibre Up For Friendly Bugs
Yes, we all know that fibre is good for our gut health – but we need to delve a little deeper than face value and look at some fibre facts.
Did you know there are different types of fibre that play different roles in maintaining your gut health? Dietary fibre can be classified in a number of ways; whether the fibre is soluble or insoluble and whether it has prebiotic effects for example. The various types of fibres each have different effects so eating a combination of fibre can provide a range of benefits.
- Soluble Fibre: slows down digestion, so that food takes longer to pass through the stomach and intestine; and also assists to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Found in BARLEYmax®™, oats, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and some fruits and vegetables.
- Insoluble Fibre: has the greatest influence on the large bowel – absorbs water and helps to increase frequency and bulk. Found in BARLEYmax®™, wholegrain breads and cereals.
- Prebiotics: prebiotics act as a food source for the good bacteria in the gut to support a healthy gut flora. Prebiotics are not broken down by the body until they reach the large intestine – truly promoting good gut health through the whole length of the digestive system. If this wasn’t impressive enough, when the good bacteria of the gut are dominant, it creates an environment that protects the bowel walls and also supports a healthy immune response. Many researchers agree that good health is associated with diverse gut bacteria and it seems reasonable therefore to think that it’s good to eat a range of different prebiotics to help support a range of different gut bacteria. BARLEYmax®™, wholegrain contains the prebiotic fructans, and candidate prebiotic resistant starch.
- Probiotics: probiotics are specific strains of friendly bacteria that deliver health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. For example, the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis, often known as ‘B.lactis’ has been shown to support good gut health by increasing regularity in adults as part of a balanced diet. In the same way that prebiotics can be consumed, so too can probiotics. A fantastic source of probiotics is The Culture Co Kefir Yoghurt, which is made with a special combination of live cultures. Featuring seven essential nutrients and 1 billion live probiotics per serve, it’s not only good for you – but also tastes great.
Eat the Rainbow
Variety is the spice of life when it comes to digestive health. Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables ensures you’re including a whole range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your diet. Not to mention, mixing it up and making different selections when it comes to your fruit and vegetables each day is a great way to relieve the dreaded dinner doldrums. Think outside the box next time you’re meal planning and see what you can come up with. Eggplant boats? Lettuce cup tacos? Grilled cheese in red capsicums? The options (and your creativity) can be endless.
The inclusion of wholegrains in your diet is critical to keeping the gut feeling good – and performing at optimal levels to keep you fit and healthy. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that people ‘eat a variety of grain foods, mostly wholegrain and / or high cereal fibre varieties.’ Moreover, studies have shown that a wholegrain rich diet can significantly improve digestive health, and may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer *. With bowel cancer being the second deadliest cancer in Australia^, the addition of wholegrains such as BARLEYmax®™ may make a huge difference in your long-term gut, and overall, health.
Many nutrition professionals recommend eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible as a great way to support your gut health. Foods that have received minimal processing retain their nutrition value, delivering more bang for your buck when it comes to health and wellbeing. Whilst, of course, this modern world that we live in means that it’s not possible to eat foods in their natural state for every single snack and meal, there are some easy inclusions that you can make in your idea. At the top of the list? Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains. Wholefoods of animal origin also make the list, specifically unflavoured dairy, eggs, seafood, poultry and red meat.
H20. It offers so many benefits in the path to good health. But what is the link between adequate water consumption and good digestive health? Well, water assists with the breakdown of food, so that your body can absorb nutrients. Water also assists with softening stools, helping you to avoid constipation. So, when it comes to H20 – bottoms up!
Don’t underestimate the importance of building up a sweat when it comes to maintaining the health of your gut. Now, this doesn’t mean hours upon hours in the gym – rather, it all comes down to balance. Regular cardiovascular exercise such as walking and cycling can increase the heart rate – which in turn, can stimulate the muscles of the abdomen to move digestive waste through the body. Time to get off the couch and pound the pavement – your body will thank you for it!
Intended as general advice only. Please consult your Health Care Provider to discuss any specific concerns.
Written by The Healthy Grain in conjunction with The Culture Co., partners of The Gut Foundation