The Gut Is At The Core Of A Healthy Mind & Body

We often associate the word bacteria with infection, but did you know that the majority in our gut are actually beneficial for us? Our gut microbiota actually contains trillions of different bacteria, meaning we have ten times more bacteria cells than we have human cells!1 The balance of our bacteria, and the diversity of it, can give us an understanding of how healthy our gut is functioning. In fact, the more diverse the bacteria, the more likely we are to have a healthy gut.1

A healthy gut can also indicate how healthy we are overall. We now understand that bacteria are not only involved in our digestion,2 but they have also been linked to the efficiency of our immune system, how hungry we feel, our metabolism, and how well we sleep at night. 2 Even more interestingly, we are starting to uncover the impact that poor gut health can have on our mental health and physical health, with some research looking at how our brain and gut interact, leading to anxiety and depression, and there is also research looking at our risk of becoming obese.3 Whilst the current research surrounding gut health is in its infancy, there is evidence suggesting that there may indeed be a link between the bacteria in our gut, and our health.

The food we eat has been consistently associated with the composition of our gut microbiota, and experts believe that some foods may influence our gut microbiota more than others. 4,5 Individuals who have a diet higher in fibre6 and plant-based foods, with less processed foods and refined carbohydrates are more likely to have ‘good’ gut bacteria, which can be thrown off balance by poor diets or long-term use of antibiotics5,7. Additionally, adding live cultures into the diet may also help restore the ‘good’ bacteria that we want. There are particular strains of bacteria found in our gut found within the human gut, such strains include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.8

There are foods we can eat to help increase our fibre intake, examples include oats, onions, and garlic. Additionally, foods such as yoghurt and sauerkraut contain live cultures of bacteria. 9 However, there are now more innovative products reaching the supermarket. For example, GoodBelly have recently developed a cereal that is high in oat fibre for healthy digestion, contributing to an increase in faecal bulk as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. The cereal is also coated with the live culture Bifidobacterium lactis, which is found in the normal human gut.

We are only just starting to uncover the benefits that our diet can have on our gut and long-term health, and it will be exciting to see how the food market may change as we start to understand more. The overall consensus is that eating a balanced diet full of a variety of plant-based foods is the best way to nourish our gut, and you may also find foods with live cultures are a helpful addition to your diet.

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