Did you know that the bacteria residing within our gut outnumbers our human cells by almost 100 to 1? Or that our gut bacteria alone can weigh up to nearly 2.5kg?! Crazy. You could almost say that we are living within THEIR eco-system, and not quite the other way around.
With so much research emerging on the importance of our micro-biome, it isn't a silly idea to start learning more on how to cultivate and create the best possible environment for our little friends. After all, the state of our gut health can impact not only our immunity, but also our genetic expression, our ability to digest food, our ability to create hormones, and even the state of our mental health.
1. Remove the junk
If you really stop to think about it, human beings have never had to process, digest and detoxify as many toxins as we do today. Whether it be from pollution, over the counter drugs, alcohol, excess sugar, additives, preservatives, pesticides or hydrogenated oils, it's not a surprise that the world is becoming more and more sick.
So much of our immunity lies within the walls of our intestine and our 'good' bacteria serve to protect our bodies to keep them alive and thriving. If we are feeding them with sub-standard nutrients they will eventually die off, leaving only the undesirable bacteria to grow - poor gut health can result in bloating and IBS symptoms, right through to triggering genetic expressions such as obesity and asthma.
So remove the junk - clean out your kitchen, car, pantry and desk from any nasties. Try to be as mindful as you can when making food choices and ensure that whatever you choose to consume, is the best possible option for you and your body at all times.
2. Feed your body with plant based, whole foods
Now that our kitchens are clear of the junk food, what do we eat?
A diet rich in plant-based, whole-foods is the way to go. This means ensuring that at least half your plate is filled with vegetables and that the rest of your meal is made up of ingredients which are as unprocessed and as natural as possible. For example choosing brown rice, over white, or ensuring your meat is grass fed, organic and local, rather than grain fed and imported.
Fuelling our bodies with the best ingredients we can, means that we are ensuring that not only are our gut bacteria thriving, but also that we are receiving the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals which allow our bodily functions to work effectively.
Adding 'prebiotics' to each meal will also help to feed the 'good' bacteria and encourage a healthy eco-system. Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fibre and include things such as onion, garlic, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli etc), banana, and whole grains.
Need a hand with knowing what to eat? Working one-on-one with a nutritionist can be a huge help in setting up the foundations for a sustainable diet. Alternatively click here to read more on our new whole food meal delivery cleanses!
3. Stress Less
The Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology published a recent study showing that consistent stress negatively affects the amount and diversity of your good gut flora. This is because when we are stressed, much of our digestive system (and its processes) is not prioritised whilst the body focuses more so on getting over the stress factor itself.
As a short term response, stress is not harmful. Long term however, chronic stress can lead to inflammation (which can deplete the gut lining of our intestine), as well as a whole array of digestive issues ranging from IBS through to constipation, bloating and reflux. As the digestive tract continues to be compromised, it affects the diversity and type of bacteria which are living there.
So what to do? Find ways to stress less. This could be through joining a yoga class, practising deep breathing techniques, using a journal, walking in the sunshine, downloading a great meditation app (we love Headspace), or simply saying 'no' more often in order to gain more time for YOU.
4. Ferment away
A great way to ensure your beneficial bacteria are thriving is to include them in to every single meal!
Fermented foods have been around for centuries and the natural process of fermentation cultivates live bacteria which do wonders for our health.
Fermented foods include things like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and tempeh - most of these things can be bought through your local health food store and have become very easily accessible.
Want to make your own sauerkraut? Check our Nikki's recipe here.
5. Include a daily probiotic
Last but not least, including a daily probiotic in your morning routine can really help our good bacteria to cultivate and grow. Let's face it, we don't ALWAYS consume the right foods all of the time, and sometimes we won't always have an opportunity to eat fermented foods every day. So having the right bacteria readily available and incorporated into our daily routine can improve digestion, reduce bloating, aid with symptoms of IBS, improve moods and sleep, and improve overall health and vitality.
Looking at incorporating a probiotic into your day? We've created our very own - made from all natural sources such as papaya and pomegranate, which means it's not only great gut food, but it also gives us a boost of antioxidants, digestive enzymes, and essential vitamins. What a win!