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What on earth is Gut Flora?

Gut Microbiome

2019 still looks as if there will be a strong pull towards veganism and more plant based eating in general, but surely 2019 will also continue to focus on the Gut Microbiome, as science delves deeper into the health benefits of keeping the gut well balanced.

Your gut, should be a well-calibrated environment of bacteria/flora creating a healthy microbiome, that in turn keeps your whole body balanced and healthy. To stay in harmony, there should be a balance of different strains of bacteria.

Scientists are now exploring the impact that gut bacteria have on modern diseases, in fact there are more than 1000 registered clinical trials in place right now. But they are not just looking at illnesses that you might imagine would be impacted by the gut such as bowel disorders, but they are looking at links to obesity, Parkinson’s, mental health, brain health and cancer to name a few.

Research already carried out suggests that a diverse gut flora, can reduce risk of conditions like Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and can also improve metabolism.

Frequent Asked Questions?

  • How does Gut Bacteria Work?

You will have a unique microbiome from about the age of five. It can be impacted by the environment we grow up in as well as the food we eat. The bacteria survive by living off non-digestible fibre, essentially it ferments the fibre and the bacteria feed off the energy. This is one of the reasons that including healthy sources of fibre in your diet is so important.

  • Can Probiotics and Prebiotics help?

Prebiotics are dietary fibre (see above), and so good sources are essential, one of the best is ‘inulin’, found in artichokes, garlic, chicory and leeks. Probiotics are live bacteria – think yoghurt, pickled and fermented foods. These also supply bacteria to the gut.

  • What things create an unbalanced gut environment?

As you can see from above not eating enough fibre would cause things to become unbalanced. UK adults should be aiming for 30g per day. Illness and inflammation in the body can also cause imbalances, as can taking antibiotics as they are known to kill off certain good bacteria.

Foods to try in 2019 to encourage a healthy gut biome:

Live Yoghurt – You might try adding raw almonds for an added probiotic/fibre kick.

Kefir – This is a type of cultured milk, using over muesli for breakfast could be a great substitute for a high sugar cereal and milk, or jam on toast.

Kombucha – Not to everyone’s taste, this is a tea, that has quite a sharp flavour. If you don’t like it as a drink, try using it as a replacement for vinegar in salad dressings.

Kimchi – Readily available in supermarkets now, but better if home-made, this is a Korean dish of sour and sweet fermented cabbage.