The gut, otherwise referred to as the gastrointestinal tract is responsible for the digestion and absorption of nutrients and fluid that we consume. A healthy gut contributes towards us feeling our best.
The three main macronutrients found that we consume are:
These are generally broken down and absorbed before they reach the large intestine. The large intestine not only absorbs most of the fluid we have consumed but it also contains thousands and thousands of microbes such as the bacteria Bifidobacterium.
These bacteria help yet more digestion occur and they also produce other micronutrients such as vitamin B and vitamin K that our body can go onto absorb as well.
Bifidobacterium is one of the many different types of bacteria that make up our gut microflora. Each person’s gut microflora is personal to them and it is constantly changing.
A large intestine filled with lots of ‘good’ bacteria and a wide variety of them will contribute to having a healthy gut.
See the tips below on how to keep the gut as healthy as it can be.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet including plenty of vegetables and wholegrain carbohydrates will not only allow us to keep our energy levels high and provide us with lots of nutrients but also encourage our ‘good’ gut bacteria to flourish. Remember to keep processed food and foods high in sugar and saturated fat to a minimum to ensure that your diet is balanced.
Take time to eat
It is important for us to not rush our meals. When we eat, blood goes to our gut to absorb all the nutrients we consume. Eating in a rush may also mean we are not chewing our food properly and our stomach may have to do more mechanical digestion to break down our food that should have been broken down in the mouth. We need to allow the body the time to digest and absorb what we have consumed and avoid feelings of discomfort in the gut.
When we are stressed, we are not thinking properly about the food we are consuming and therefore we may over-eat or under-eat, and less blood may be present in our gut to absorb nutrients properly. Try to relax, be present and enjoy the food you are consuming
We need fluid to digest our food. Water acts as a digestive aid allowing more nutrients to be accessible to the body. Remember to drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day - about 1.2 litres, and try to make the fluid consumed mostly water.
Exercise is constantly being talked about to promote good overall health, this includes our gut health too! Moving our bodies helps our digestion. It is important to leave plenty of time after a meal before heavy exercise, however just standing up and walking a short while after eating will encourage food to move through our digestive system promoting healthy digestion.
Eating a variety of food
Eating a wide variety of food not only allows us to have a wide variety of nutrients that are essential for our body, but some foods may even contain ‘good’ bacteria (also called probiotics) such as ‘live’ or ‘bio’ yoghurt, Kimchi, kambucha and sauerkraut. Other foods may contain a type of dietary fibre which promotes the growth of ‘good’ bacteria (called prebiotics) such as vegetables, pulses and wholegrains.
Notice how your gut feels
From time to time we may feel discomfort in our gut, if something does not make you feel good i.e. coffee - try not to have so much of it. Continuous feelings of discomfort such as always feeling bloated after consuming a particular food might mean that you need to seek further or medical advice.
Notice what you are eating and how you are feeling, and seek further advice if necessary to ensure you are only consuming foods that allow you to be feeling your best.