Ever Wondered What does a healthy gut look like ?
What is healthy gut?
Gut means digestive system especially intestines. There exists millions of microbiome in our gut. Microbiomes are not always disease causing infact there exists a number of good bacteria as well. A healthy gut is which has good bacteria and they are called as gut microflora. The gut microbiota of each individual is unique. They help in absorbing energy from food and are essential for humans to take in nutrients and thus help with better digestion. A healthy gut communicates with the brain through nerves therefore it is also called as second brain.
Signs of unhealthy gut:-
· Upset stomach
· Unintentional weight changes
· Sleep disturbances
· Constant fatigue
· Skin irritation
· Auto immune conditions
· Food intolerances
What are the benefits of a healthy gut ?
Healthy gut not only improves digestion by proper assimilation and metabolism of food but also provides other number of health benefits. The status of the gut microbiota has been linked to metabolic syndrome.
· Healthy gut contributes to how a person fights disease thus helps in boosting immunity. It overall contributes to a strong immune system.
· Gut microbes affect energy balance, brain development and cognitive function.
· Gut health also affects your mental health, mood and psychological processes.
· It helps in irritable bowel syndrome. Low microbial diversity in the gut has been linked to IBS
· Helps reduce obesity by increasing energy production from the food.
· Helpful for diabetic especially type 1 diabetes.
Healthy gut nutrition – What foods to eat for good gut bacteria ?
Nutrition has a wide role in maintaining good health. It plays a key role in maintaining your gut healthy. We all know that “You are what you eat” but there is one more that “You are what you digest”
In order to have good digestion and absorption of nutrients, it is important to take care of your gut and maintain it in healthy state. Diet can alter these gut microflora. Research has shown that changes to the gut microbiome may contribute to obesity, diabetes and cancer. Here are some gut friendly foods that you can include in your diet-
1. Water – Staying hydrated is the simple way of improving your gut health. Drinking plenty of water helps eliminate bad bacteria and thus maintains balance of good bacteria.
2. Fiber rich foods – Including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, peas, oats, berries and asparagus have shown a positive impact on gut health.
3. Antioxidant rich foods – Include vitamin C rich foods like amla, orange, lemon, kiwi etc. They help reduce inflammation because they are anti- inflammatory in nature.
4. Green Leafy Vegetable – They are a top-notch pick because they are high in fiber and have a special carbohydrate which feed helpful gut bacteria.
5. Prebiotics – They are type of fiber that provides nutrients to the bacteria that supports healthy gut. They help promote growth of beneficial bacteria especially bifidobacteria. Sources are garlic, onion, apple, oats, flaxseed, banana. Bananas supply your gut with inulin, a type of fiber that helps good bacteria grow.
6. Probiotics - Probiotics are live bacteria that are found in some foods. They help reduce gut inflammation. Fermented foods provide probiotics. Sources are yoghurt, idli, dosa, dhokla, cheese, kombucha, tempeh etc
7. Polyphenols- They can also promote the growth of good gut bacteria. Colourful foods are rich in polyphenols such as berries, tea, coffee and red wine.
Foods to avoid list
1. Reduce your sugar intake to minimum because high sugar diet causes inflammation in the gut as well as it can eliminate the beneficial bacteria present in the gut. It also leads to gut dysbiosis which is an imbalance of the gut microbiome. Excessive use of artificial sweeteners may increase blood sugar levels due to their effect on gut microflora. So it’s better to avoid sweeteners as well
2. Avoid processed foods – They affect the gut composition and also upset the microbe metabolism. Highly processed foods are devoid of nutrition and therefore have poor effect on the gut microbiome.
3. Red Meat –Red meat has L-carnitine which when consumed in excess can change gut microflora and also releases an inflammation causing carbohydrate. It also leads to increased risk of heart disease due to its high saturation of fat and cholesterol.
4. Fried food – They are cooked in generally saturated and trans fat which can irritate the gut and leads to issues like bloating, nausea and other gut disorders. They promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria.
5. Alcohol – If taken on a regular basis, it leads to intestinal inflammation and thus affects intestinal immune homeostasis. It not only affects liver but also has adverse impact on the gut health.
6. Antibiotics - Antibiotics can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria, so they kill all of them and thus alter the gut microbes.
Lifestyle changes that help healthy gut –
1. Adequate sleep – Getting enough and proper sleep is must for the body to function well. Lack of sleep alters the composition of good bacteria in the gut.
2. Eat slow- Chewing your food well help in better breakdown of food and thus better digestion. Eat slow and feel the every morsel of food. Don’t rush while eating.
3. Lower your stress levels- Stress has an impact on colonic motor activity which can alter gut microbiota balance. It lowers beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus. Stress may contribute to IBS which is one of the most common functional bowel disorders.
4. Smoking – It impacts the large bowel and has a significant influence on gut microbiota composition. It increases Bacteroides-Prevotella in individuals with Crohn’s Disease and healthy individuals.
5. Physical activity – Studies have shown that exercise has protective effects on gut health and it helps reduce the risk of colon cancer, diverticulosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Lack of exercise can alter the gut bacteria composition. Overall exercise is beneficial as it helps reduce metabolic syndrome as well.
6. Improve Diet – Plant based diet has shown beneficial effect on the gut health as compared to animal based foods. Eat more of fruits and vegetables as they provide fiber, polyphenol, vitamins which overall benefit the gut health by promoting growth of good bacteria.
Supplements for Healthy gut –
Some commonly available gut supplements that help the functioning of the gut are -
Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, B complex vitamins, probiotic and prebiotic drinks or capsules.
v Healthy gut smoothie –
Here is a locally and easily available, budget friendly smoothie recipe for you all.
Smoothies for healthy gut
This smoothie is rich in antioxidants and is gut healing.
Serving size -2
Beetroot – 1 medium sized
Ginger – few tiny pieces
Apple – 1 small sized chopped
(You can also add carrot to it - optional)
Add all into blender and squeeze lemon. Drink it fresh!
Include prebiotics and eat fermented foods, eat less sugar and artificial sweeteners, avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics, eat more of fruits and vegetables. But remember one thing, no single food is magical as such, considering above all the factors together will definitely help. To maintain your gut healthy, one must include variety in the diet and improve their lifestyle habits too.
“IT IS HEALTH THAT IS REAL WEALTH AND NOT PIECES OF GOLD AND SILVER.” – MAHATMA GANDHI, LAWYER AND ANTI-COLONIAL NATIONALIST
Dt. Shweta Mishra
Know Your Diet by Dt. Shweta Mishra aims at providing daily hacks and facts about nutrition and dietetics. They will help you build healthy habits by making customised Meal Plans & Food Recipes for your specific body requirement.
Feel free to take her guidance by contacting her at the below link.