Gut Health 101

Gut health is the buzz word of the year when it comes to nutrition, and that is why we have unpacked everything you need to know; what it is, why it’s important and how to improve it.

What is gut health?
Our intestines house billions of strains of bacteria which affect our overall health and wellbeing. We know that these bacteria (aka microbes) live off the food we consume and affect how our body functions. The more diverse our microbiota (a family of microbes), the better our health.

Why is gut health important?
Gut health impacts things like immunity, digestion, aging, mood regulation and brain function. To take this one step further; without proper care of your gut health, important processes such as fat storage, insulin regulation and hormone balance will be out of order.  If you want to improve the results of your training, what you eat plays a key role in the overall outcome of your health.

How does gut health affect your weight?
Research shows that obesity and weight are not only determined by genes and lifestyle, but also heavily impacted by gut health. The more diverse our gut bacteria, the leaner we are.

There are a few key factors which contribute to the link between gut health and weight. The first clever thing our gut bacteria does is produce hormones to indicate when we are full twenty minutes after being given nutrients.  This means, the slower we eat the more full we feel, preventing over eating.

The second; and most important factor is the food we eat. Traditionally, the western diet consists of foods high in sugar and low in fibre. These processed foods lead to reduced strains of bacteria growing in our gut, which then lead to weight gain.

To break this down, when your gut microbiota is balanced, your body can efficiently process food which stabilises cortisol levels; a stress hormone that affects the way your body stores fat.

This efficiency also stabilises your energy levels which are caused by spikes in blood sugar and insulin from eating high sugar, low fibre foods such as white bread, bottled oj, cereal or other processed foods.

With all that being said, each human has unique gut microbes. Different strains of bacteria change depending on each individual diet, which then leads to different health outcomes. The good news is that a shift to a healthier diet can change the bacteria mix in a few days.

How to improve your gut health
The best diet identified for our microbiota is the mediterranean diet – high in plant-based fibre and low in processed foods. The focus is on including foods such as legumes, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish to feed sustain our microbiota.

To really help your microbiota flourish, eat lots of prebiotic foods which stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria, like: onions, leeks, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, legumes, barley and oats. Fermented probiotic foods are also really beneficial to improving your gut health. Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and natural yogurt are all very beneficial.

We will be delving further into how you can improve your gut health at our gut health seminar on thursday november 9 at 6:30pm. Register at elixr.com.au/gut. Free for members and guests.