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Probiotics, prebiotics and gut health

You are what you eat, or more accurately you are what you feed the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut. These organisms create a micro-ecosystem: the microbiome which plays a very important role in your health. The healthier your microbiome, the healthier you are.

To maintain optimal health, it’s essential to incorporate both probiotics and prebiotics into your diet to keep your gut – and consequently the rest of your body – in balance.

Probiotics are live organisms. They are usually specific strains of bacteria that directly add to the population of healthy microbes in your gut. The most common probiotic is yoghurt. Other bacteria-fermented foods include kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha. These fermented foods contain millions of friendly microbes that, once inside your gut, boost your body’s immunity, encourage healthy gut function, and support your mental health.

Prebiotics are fertiliser for the gut. Foods rich in complex carbs, fibre and resistant starch, including bananas, legumes, oats, berries, asparagus and onions, contain carbs that aren’t digestible by the body. They become food for probiotics and other microbes, resulting in an array of health benefits. Prebiotics are considered to support detoxification, enhance immunity and absorption of minerals and induce the production of anti-inflammatory compounds such as short-chain fatty acids.

However, 60% of people in the UK do not reach the daily recommended amount of dietary fibre. If you want to ensure you’re feeding your digestive bacteria properly, include at least two servings of fruit and five portions of vegetables (seeds and wholegrains count too) every day.

 

Top tips for a happier gut

 

  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables (both cooked, raw or sprouted).
  • Take time to chew your food. Following this simple tip will reduce the pressure on your digestive system to break down the food and help you digest them. Amylase – an enzyme that is secreted with saliva helps to break down carbohydrates and starches into more simple sugars.
  • Take it easy when introducing more fibre into your diet and allow your gut to readjust. Too much fibre too soon can lead to flatulence and gas.
  • Too much sugar and processed food create an imbalance in the gut. Reduce sugar consumption as it can contribute to increased fermentation and therefore flatulence.
  • If you’re not used to a lot of fibre it can be a shock to the system at first. Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Keep a bottle or glass of water with you through the day to sip on.

 

Our prebiotic picks

 

Artichokes – rich in folate which supports healthy cell division (great for pregnant women or those who want to start a family). Folate also stimulates bile flow which helps digestion and supports liver health. Contains a number of flavonoids that feed the good bacteria and promote a balanced inflammatory response.

Blueberries – rich in antioxidants so help to buffer inflammation.

Flax seeds – rich in omega 3 fatty acids so a great plant source of healthy fats.

Bananas – gentle on the gut and have a mucilaginous effect which essentially translates into ‘better gut function’.

Oats – known for their beta-glucans and their effect on insulin and blood glucose modulation. They are also known to support and promote healthy cholesterol levels.

Mushrooms – stimulate immune cells and therefore modulate immune response.

Garlic – anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. Inhibits plaque formation on top of the standard prebiotic benefits.

 

Are you worried you’re not getting enough variety in your diet? At The Pure Package we create nutritionally balanced meals, packed with everything you need to help keep you and your gut healthy. Choose your Pure Package meal programme.