10 ways to improve your gut microbiome:
If you are making resolutions for the new year, consider adding ‘improving your gut health’ to the list! Your body's gut health is one of the best long-term investments you can make.
Bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms living in your intestinal tract all make up your gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is not only responsible for good digestion but influences hundreds of other functions within the body like fighting off infection, supplying essential nutrients, energy levels, and hormones, to mention a few.
A healthy gut or a balanced gut microbiome means that you are in a great position to fight off colds, flus, and other illnesses. However, a diminished gut microbiome has been linked to digestive issues, allergies, inflammation, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and even mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
If your gut microbiome is diminished, it can take time to build back up to a healthy gut. Need help figuring out where to start to strengthen your gut microbiome? We’ve made it slightly easier by compiling the below list to get you started on your mission to a happy and healthy gut!
1. Take a look at your diet.
One of the most effective ways to shape our gut microbiome is through our diet. A diet made up of a variety of foods can lead to a more diverse microbiome. Fruit, vegetables, legumes, and beans all provide nutrients for the bacteria in your gut to thrive on.
2. Avoid processed foods.
Processed foods are often high in additives, emulsifiers, salt, and sweeteners have been known to irritate the gut lining. Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of highly processed foods are more likely to have bad bacteria in their gut than those who avoid these foods.
3. Up your intake of fermented foods.
Fermented foods have live cultures that can keep your gut healthy.
Examples of fermented foods are:
4. Ensure you are getting optimal sleep.
Studies have shown that people who aren’t getting enough good quality sleep risk disrupting their gut microbiome and potentially developing an inflammatory disease. Everyone is different and needs varying amounts of sleep, but a good rule of thumb to go by is getting 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night.
5. Put your mental health first.
Prioritise balance in your life and make an effort to do more of what benefits your mental health, whether it is yoga, meditation, a gym class, or reading a book. Whatever helps you to de-stress will ultimately help your gut health.
6. Up your fibre intake.
Foods high in fibre are often high in nutrients too. Your body can’t digest fibre so it is left to certain bacteria in your gut which stimulates their growth. Following a diet high in fibre can even prevent the growth of some disease-causing bacteria. Try to aim for more than 40g of fibre per day.
Foods high in fibre are:
- green peas
- whole grains
7. Try making more vegetarian meals.
Several studies have shown that the gut of a person who follows a vegetarian diet contains a smaller amount of disease-causing bacteria than an omnivore’s gut. However, it is still unclear if this is due to the lack of meat or the fact that vegetarians tend to consume more vegetables and fruits, which in turn means ingesting more fibre than the average person.
8. Eat prebiotic foods.
Many fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes contain prebiotics. Prebiotics pass through your gut without being digested and nourish your good gut bacteria. They can help ward off pathogens in your gut and help with constipation.
9. Prepare to build your gut back up after a course of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are designed to wipe out the bad bacteria that are causing you harm. But in the process, they also wipe out all of your good bacteria and it can take weeks, even months, to restore the microbiota diversity. So, only take antibiotics when necessary and directed by your doctor.
10. Take probiotic supplements
Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that provide a specific health benefit when consumed. They may benefit your health by improving the composition of your gut microbiome.
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Clinical Trials to advance knowledge
Further research is needed to understand the gut microbiome and how probiotics might help the symptoms of IBS. Clinical Trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy or treatment is effective with the help of volunteers. These trials help develop knowledge and ultimately help patients worldwide.
We are currently enrolling for a study investigating the potential benefits of a natural food supplement in people suffering from IBS.
To learn more about our current IBS study or apply to take part, click here.