Eating to improve gut health.
Article by Josh Reed
In our second article with resident nutritionist Josh Reed, we look into the types of foods that will maximise our wellbeing. Following on from our previous article “The Gut Mind Connection”, we wanted to provide members with Josh’s Top Food Tips to ensure that our diets are helping our guts (and minds) to function well.
We're currently working closely with Josh Reed to develop our wellness menu for our 2022 Byron Retreat, ensuring that our Retreat guests come home feeling lighter and healthier than ever before!
Numerous studies continue to show that diets high in meats and processed foods (typical Western diets) result in increased gut inflammation as well as significantly disrupt the health of the gut microbiota. Typically, these types of diets are also low in plant foods... those that are high in fibre and contain an abundance of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Further to this, typical Western diets often contain a very limited variety of foods, impacting on nutrient adequacy… Ultimately, these above factors affect the richness and diversity of health promoting gut bacteria species. And this in turn compromises the health of your gut.
A compromised gut microbiota can increase your risk for obesity and chronic disease, as well as numerous digestive conditions including constipation, abdominal discomfort, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome and colorectal cancer. On a day-to-day basis, poor gut health can significantly impact your well-being, including reduced mood and low energy levels.
So, what’s the answer?
In contrast to diets high in animal products and processed foods, an eating pattern that incorporates mostly plant-based wholefoods favours good gut health, particularly through its way of enriching your gut microbiota
diversity and vitality.
Your gut microbiota thrives on plants, specifically the fibres and starches found in plants.
The more varied your diet is in plant-based wholefoods, the more fibre, phytonutrients and prebiotics you will receive. All of these nutrients support the optimal growth and functioning of your gut microbiota. A healthy gut microbiota means a healthier gut.
Fibre refers to the bits and pieces of plant foods that cannot be broken down by your digestion. Because of this, fibre moves through your GIT (gastro intestinal tract), bulking and softening your stools.
It is important to understand that fibre comes in many different forms. These forms are classified based on their GI solubility, bacterial fermentation capacity, products of fermentation and physiological properties.
Put simply, they are categorised by how they function in and on your GIT. The most common fibre categories include soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch. All three are essential.
Prebiotics are defined as selectively fermented ingredients that result in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of your gut microbes, thus conferring health benefits. In a nutshell, prebiotics feed your good gut microbes, who in turn, ferment them resulting in the release of certain gases and beneficial compounds called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
To highlight just a few of their benefits, SCFAs fuel the cells lining your gut, fuel the growth and activity of other good gut microbes, reduce your guts pH level which increases the absorption of essential minerals, enhance your gut barrier integrity and immune system as well as help to regulate the movement of food
and waste through your GI tract. Obviously, prebiotics are integral for good gut health.
Probiotics are live micro-organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host. Benefits can include reduction of potentially pathogenic (harmful) gut microorganisms, strengthening of the immune system and improvement of the skin’s function (among other benefits).
JOSH’S TOP FOOD TIPS
Include some wholegrains at each main meal, for example rolled oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, sprouted
bread or buckwheat.
Include at least 2 cups of coloured vegetables with lunch and dinner.
Snack on a piece a fruit between meals and/or add some into your breakfast muesli, porridge or smoothie.
Also vary your fruits often.
Eat a handful of nuts each day.
Aim to include a few teaspoons of seeds daily. Try adding chia seeds, flaxseeds or LSA to your smoothies, muesli or yoghurt, or pumpkin or sesame seeds to your salads.
Replace your spreads with hummus, tahini, nut butters or avocado.
Include a cup of legumes (Eg: chickpeas, lentils) at least 3-4 times per week. You can add these to salads, curries, stir-fries, burritos, soups and so on.
Drink lots of water. Aim for at least 2 litres per day.
The ideas, opinions and concepts expressed in this blog article are intended to be used for informational purposes only. The author is not rendering medical advice of any kind, nor is this article intended to replace competent and licensed professional medical advice from a Medical Practitioner to a patient/client or diagnose, prescribe or treat any condition, disease, illness or injury.
Readers should seek professional medical advice before acting on any suggestions/information made in this article. Readers should not delay or disregard professional medical advice because of something they may have read in this guidebook. The author of this article disclaims any and all responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application or interpretation of the material in this article.
This article was written by Josh Reed, Nutritionist Reed Nutrition.
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To find out more about Josh Reed, you can visit his website at www.reednutrition.com.au.
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