Life Health & Wellbeing

Tuesday 17 September 2019

10 facts about your gut

Marketing hype and dietary fads have hijacked the gut health space. As a result, it can be quite difficult to separate fact from fiction, writes clinical dietitian Lorraine Maher

Stock photo
Stock photo
The microorganisms that reside in your gut have a big impact on your overall health

It is now known that microorganisms that reside in your gut, your microbiota, have a big impact on your overall health by training your immune system, fending off bad bacteria and playing a crucial role in digestive health. The richness and diversity of what thrives in your gut is what keeps you healthy. Here are Lorraine's top tips for gut health:

1 Eat your fruit and veggies...

Eat your veg and fruit: both are full of fibre and several provide prebiotics, which are the fertiliser for your gut.

2 Eat lots of plant-based foods...

Variety is important and it's not as hard as you might think - plant-based foods include wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds - so you'd be surprised how quickly you can notch up 30 portions over seven days.

3 Eat something 'living'...

Live or bio yoghurts tick this box, or for the more adventurous, try some fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha (tea fermented with bacteria or yeast) or sauerkraut.

4 Include healthy fats...

Fermented foods
Fermented foods

Include healthy fats in your diet: these can include oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel; nuts such as walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts; or seeds such as chia.

5 Don't exclude food groups...

Don't exclude whole food groups: there's no reason to, unless you have been medically advised to do so.

6 Chew your food, slowly...

Slow down the pace of your eating and try to chew each mouthful to a soft pulp before swallowing. The value of this is often underestimated.

7 Don't skip meals...

Regular eating helps prevent over-eating. If you suffer with gut symptoms, your body will likely prefer smaller, more regular meals.

8 Keep yourself hydrated...

Water and decaffeinated drinks are best. Adequate hydration is important, since fibre depends on water to do its job and to help your gut to function at its best.

9 IBS - don't restrict diet long term...

If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), first, make eating and dietary changes such as the above - clinical studies have shown them to be effective. If you embark on any restricted diet, remember that they should only be followed short term as you run the risk of upsetting your microbiota.

10 All probiotics are not equal...

Probiotic strains are very specific and not all will work on certain symptoms, so choose a probiotic that has been proven to work.

The dietetics department in Blackrock Clinic is presenting a Masterclass in Gut Health on Wednesday at 7pm at the Radisson Blu in Stillorgan, Dublin. To register, call 1800 601 060

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