Recent research has shown a very strong link between gut health and many other aspects of our health, including both physical and mental health.
Inside our gut lives 50 trillion creatures from more than 1,000 different species, some good bacteria and others bad bacteria. This collection of bacteria makes up over 50% of our total body’s cells and around 90% of our total DNA gene pool and it is known as our microbiome. A healthy and diverse microbiome is essential to our overall health and well-being with many studies showing that a poorly balanced microbiome can contribute to insulin resistance, low-grade inflammation, fat deposition and therefore indirectly participate in the onset of obesity and metabolic diseases. There is also a very strong gut-brain link and studies have shown that the microbiome can also affect mental health and has even been linked to depression.
So how do we build a healthy microbiome? Firstly, if you have used anti-biotics you might need to take some ‘Probiotics’ (powder/capsules/chewable/liquid varieties) to replace those healthy bacteria that may have been destroyed. Probiotics are also readily available in fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and miso. These foods will help to boost the levels of good bacteria in the gut.
Secondly, in order for these good bacteria to breed in your body and expand their populations, they need to receive adequate ‘food’, which is called ‘Prebiotics’. Prebiotics support the growth of good bacteria and are found in many foods including onion, garlic, leeks, artichokes, stone fruit, watermelon, dried fruit, barley, rye, wheat based products and legumes.