Still top of the wellness agenda, everyone from nutritionists to medics continue to expound the importance of a well-functioning gut. But could you be sabotaging your gut health without even knowing it? From inadequate amounts of fibre to a lack of the right supplements, it’s all too easy to throw your stomach out of whack. Keep scrolling to discover the top nutrition tips to improve your gut health…
What is gut health & why is it so important?
Our gut microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gut) are made up of over a trillion bacteria. These bacteria, both good and bad, are important for digestive functions. Bacteria plays a role in transit time of food, nutrient absorption and secretion, and helps to convert food into energy. It also provides immune function – a decreased gut microbiome increases susceptibility to foreign invasions of the gut tube, and allows for increased reproduction of pro‐inflammatory cells. Furthermore, the gut microbiome can also affect our mood, as it has a hugely influential role in the gut‐brain‐axis.
The signs of bad gut health
Most people don’t tend to pay attention to their gut until it starts to become less efficient; diarrhoea, constipation, persistent bloating and abdominal pains can all indicate things aren’t quite working as they should be and may indicate a reduced gut microbiome. Conditions such as coeliac disease can also cause widespread symptoms such as rashes, tiredness or nutrient deficiencies. Poor mental health status has been linked to an imbalance in the gut microbiome however, this is actually good news, as it means there is potential to improve or even reverse this condition by rebalancing our gut microbiome.
4 simple vegan‐friendly ways to improve your gut health
1. Add variety to your meals
The American Gut Project found that people that ate over 30 different plants per week had significantly greater diversity of their gut microbiome. Those that ate over 30 plants a week also had a decreased likelihood of antibiotic resistance. For this particular study, plants did not only mean fruit and vegetables; it also included wholegrains, nuts, seeds and spices. Adding some berries, crushed nuts and a tablespoon of seeds to your morning oatmeal can get you to 4 out of your weekly 30 in just one meal!
2. Get regular vitamin D
It is recommended that all people in the UK supplement with vitamin D between Oct – April, due to the lack of UVB sunlight. This type of sunlight is needed for our skin to produce vitamin D. However, research suggests vitamin D also plays an important role in gut health. Supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to improve diversity of the microbiome, which in turn leads to a healthier gut. A quick lunch break walk can help to boost vitamin D levels, but a quick and easy way to include regular vitamin D is with the use of a daily spray: