Central Coast News
Healthy Gut, Healthy Body
All Health Begins in the Gut
The health of your gut is the cornerstone of your health, wellbeing and immunity. More and more research is beginning to uncover the significant role the gut plays in our wellbeing, weight management and disease prevention, and how the foods we consume influence our gut microbiota and our overall health.
The gut contains approximately 70% of the body’s immune system with poor gut health being linked to gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, discomfort, irregularity and irritable bowel syndrome. An unhealthy digestive system has also been linked to diseases like diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema and autoimmune disorders.
National Nutrition Week 2017 is 15-21 October 2017 #NNW2017
Each year National Nutrition Week raises awareness of the role of food on our health, and supports the community to enjoy healthy eating. Central Coast based Accredited Nutritionist and Accredited Practising Dietitian, and Director of Eatsense, Nicole Saliba and her team strongly believe that healthy eating does not have to be complicated or restrictive, and that eating well should be stress and guilt-free.
Nicole Saliba from Eatsense shares some insights into what to do to help achieve optimal gut health:
So, what exactly should we be eating and doing for optimal gut health?
Prebiotic rich foods
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that pass through the body undigested until they reach the colon. In the colon, these prebiotics are fermented where they fuel the good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics are food for probiotics as they are important fuel sources for the healthy bacteria in our gut, helping them increase in numbers.
Inulin is a common prebiotic and it's naturally found in garlic, asparagus, onions, soybeans, leeks and artichokes. However, prebiotics are also now added to many foods including breakfast cereals, bread, table spreads, drinks and yoghurt in the form of inulin which has been extracted from Jerusalem artichokes or chicory root. Other sources of prebiotic dietary fibres include fruit (banana and apples), konjac root (which low calorie “shirataki” or “slendier” noodles are made out of), beta-glucan found in oats, psylium husk and wholegrain cereals such as barley, rye and wheat bran. All of these options are great ways of boosting your prebiotic fibre intake and will support strong gut health.
Probiotic rich foods
Probiotics are live 'friendly' bacteria or microorganisms that help maintain a healthy gut by reducing the number of harmful bacteria and also produce specific fatty acids that feed the cells lining the gut keeping them healthy and boost our immune function. There are many different strains that can be found in fermented foods. The most common types of probiotics are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacilli. Yoghurts, yakult, kefir (Russian inspired fermented dairy drink), kimchi (Korean inspired fermented vegetables and spices), tempeh, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) and miso are all foods that are rich in probiotics. There are lots of new products on the market that have added probiotic strains such as kombucha and coconut yoghurts.
Many antioxidants are polyphenols, a large group of chemical compounds found in plants. Some sources of polyphenols such as those found in green and black tea can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, whilst others can stimulate the growth of beneficial microbiota. Other potential health benefits include anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory properties.
Common foods with rich polyphenol content include fruits especially dark berries, vegetables, seeds such as flaxseed, nuts (e.g. chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts), olives and extra-virgin olive oil, vegetables, tea, cocoa products, wine, spices (e.g. cloves, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, circumin), dried herbs (e.g. peppermints, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley), green tea, black tea.
Limit processed foods
Processed, deep fried, low fibre and high sugar foods should be limited as they increase levels of harmful bacteria in the gut and reduce the variety of bacterial species in the gut causing an imbalance within a few days. High fat, high sugar and high meat diets have been linked to poor gut health. It is also important to take it easy on the alcohol as it can cause an imbalance in the gut microbiota.
Aim to base your diet on minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts, seeds and whole grains such as rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, kamut, barley, corn, amanranth, teff, and buckwheat. Also moderate your intake of animal protein especially red meat and processed meats such as sausages and deli meat (ham, bacon, salami).
Stress less and sleep a little more
Simply put- humans are not designed for chronic stress. Studies have shown that stress can lead to changes in the composition, diversity and number of gut microbiota. Furthermore, links have been made between the microbiota and depression, anxiety and stress. In fact, a recent study found that the addition of a “good” strain of the bacteria lactobacillus (which is also found in yoghurt) to the gut of normal mice reduced their anxiety levels.
The fight or flight response that is brought on by stress results in decreased blood flow to the digestive system and fewer digestive enzymes being secreted. Stress can also increase inflammation in the body, including the gastrointestinal system, as well as changes in bowel habits such as constipation and diarrhoea.
Taking care of your emotional well-being and investing in your self-care is vital to your health and vitality. Take time to relax and keep your stress levels in check. This might involve disconnecting from your electronics and social media for an hour each day, doing some exercise, meditation or deep breathing to calm your mind.
Nicole Saliba, Director of Eatsense is passionate about providing ‘nutrition advice that makes sense’ and will be presenting her top five steps to optimising your gut health in an interactive seminar covering such topics as stress, sleep, balanced nutrition, probiotics and fermented foods.
Spots are limited, don’t miss out!
Gut Health Seminar - All Health Begins in the Gut
Wednesday 25 October 2017 - SOLD OUT!
Second event being held on Wednesday November 8 2017
6pm arrival for a 6:15pm start
Level One, Riverside Tower, 69 Central Coast Highway West Gosford
This article archived 25 Nov 2017
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