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'Trust your gut' says Chantelle Kimberley

HEALTH: Bananas encourage good bacteria.

CHRISTMAS is on the way – and there’s no better time to sort your gut out! Every year we promise to be good and not eat that extra mince pie, but time and time again we put pressure on our digestive system by caving in to that second or third plate of Christmas dinner, even though we know we shouldn’t. Gut health is key to living a happy and healthy life.

Everybody is different, so it’s important you find out what works for you. If you want to improve your digestion, lose weight or look after your general health, there are some broad principles that apply to all. Life & Style takes a look at what you can do to boost your gut health.

In order to improve your gut health it is important to cut out foods such as refined carbohydrate grains, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, antibiotics and anything high in sugar. If you’ve tried numerous diets that haven’t worked for you it’s probably time for a new approach.

ESSENTIAL

Extensive studies from leading scientific researchers have found that the state of our gut bacteria is not only essential to weight loss but also could lead to better mood, immunity and skin.

According to The Telegraph those who have previously tried an exclusive four-week gut makeover plan from nutritional therapist Jeanette Hyde have lost up to 13 pounds and reported increased energy, reduction in food cravings, menopausal symptoms, mouth ulcers, asthma, heartburn and acne.

The collection of bacteria living in and on our body has been known as the ‘microbiome’ and consists of about 100 trillion bacterial cells, the highest concentration of that is in your gut.

In scientific evidence, it is clear that having a wide range of these bugs is now understood as essential to many aspects of health, but many of us have a depleted microbiome because we are consuming a poor diet that’s high in sugar, refined carbohydrate grains such as white bread and white pasta, processed foods and artificial sweeteners and even antibiotics.

Tips to look after your gut

1. Eat a wide range of plant- based foods. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefer different foods.

2. Eat more fibre. Most people eat less than they should. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrains feed healthy bacteria.

3. Avoid highly processed foods. They often contain ingredients that either suppress ‘good’ bacteria or increase ‘bad’ bacteria.

4. Probiotic foods, such as live kefir or sauerkraut, might encourage more microbes to grow.

5. Choose extra-virgin olive oil over other fats when you can. It contains the highest number of microbe-friendly polyphenols.

6. Antibiotics kill ‘good’ bacteria as well as ‘bad’. If you need antibiotics, make sure you plenty of foods
that boost your microbes afterwards.

7. If your diet is low in fibre, a sudden increase can cause wind and bloating.
This is less likely if you make gradual changes and drink extra water.

Fermented foods

Foods such as Kefir, which is a cultured, creamy product with amazing health attributes similar to milk or yoghurt. You can also try pickled foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. Both of these foods increase the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, which can help prevent illness.

Green vegetables

Vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiome. They are high in fibre that can’t be digested by your body, however, they can be digested by certain bacteria in your gut, which stimulates their growth.

Bananas

Bananas help restore normal bowel function, especially if you have diarrhoea. They restore electrolytes and potassium that may be lost due to runny stools. They also have lots of fibre to aid digestion.

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