With National Nutrition Week kicking off from 16 October (the same day as World Food Day), Dynan shares how you can help support your gut to work at its best.
What does it mean to have a healthy gut?
A healthy gut is one which operates effectively to digest and absorb food without issue. At the same time the healthier our gut bacteria are, the more effectively the gut can perform its functions. What’s interesting, is those functions aren’t necessarily isolated within the gut but contribute to overall health and wellbeing, including supporting a healthy immune system.
How does your gut influence your immune system?
When you think of your immune system, you don’t necessarily think that your gut can play a role. Nothing can be further from the truth. Around 70% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut and the good bacteria that live there talk to those cells to help modulate your immune response. These tiny microbes living in the gut work to support a healthy immune response and support the health of our immune system.
What could lead to an unhealthy gut?
Without maintaining a balanced diet that incorporates nourishing high-fibre foods, your gut microbiome may become imbalanced. Many Aussies, myself included, lead very busy lifestyles so it can sometimes be a struggle to strike a balance between work, social life, a healthy diet and a regular sleeping pattern. All of these things can collide, culminating in the potential to contribute to an unhealthy gut.
What does your gut need to be healthy?
Like most things, our gut needs consistent nourishment to thrive and perform at its best. While most people think of expensive fixes, such as supplements, to keep their gut health at its best, simplicity can be key. Foods we commonly purchase such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains that contain fibre are what our gut needs to stay happy and healthy.
How much fibre does your body need each day, and what do you need to ensure you are getting enough fibre?
Health practitioners generally recommend 30 grams of fibre for men and 25 grams for women each day. While this can sound like a lot, an easy way to reach the recommended intake is by incorporating fibre-rich foods into your diet. If you are busy like me, there are simple ways to increase your intake. High-fibre cereal like Kellogg’s® Sultana Bran® is a great example of an easy way to get a dose of fibre at the start of the day. Then add whole grain bread, fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes into the rest of the meals and snacks throughout the day.
What does a normal day on a plate look like for you?
It really depends on the day and what I have planned. So often I am busy with patients, which can mean I’m not at home to eat. I love convenience and routine, so I start my day off the same way every day, with a bowl of Kellogg’s® All-Bran® cereal topped with high protein milk or yoghurt, fruit, and nuts.
Starting my day this way means I am able to keep my gut nourished and feel satisfied for hours, which is important to help me get through the busy parts of my day. I then grab a piece of fruit in my morning break, a big salad with protein and wholegrains or a wholegrain sandwich with egg and salad for lunch and usually a yoghurt in the afternoon (sometimes with a sprinkle of Sultana Bran for crunch).
Dinner is often part-prepared on the weekend, to help us eat well despite our busy schedules and can range from a chickpea and vegetable curry with brown rice to a lentil bolognese with salad to a poke bowl with legumes and fresh fish.
What are three easy things you can do to improve your gut health?
Gut health can be an overwhelming concept, but I have come up with three easy ways to make a difference to your gut.
- Making some fibre swaps is a great way to get started. Swapping your buttered toast for high-fibre cereal such as Kellogg’s® All Bran® Wheat Flakes, high protein milk or yoghurt and seasonal fresh or frozen fruit is just as quick to prepare in the mornings, yet more nourishing.
- Reducing your stress levels is another way to improve your gut health. Set aside fifteen minutes per day to turn off your phone and do something you love whether that is meditation or walking. It can be so hard to completely turn off and take time away from the pressures of the modern world but lowering your stress levels can be a simple yet effective way to help improve gut health.
- Stay hydrated. Water is just as essential to good gut health as any probiotic or fibre-filled food. Keep a water bottle with you and refill it throughout the day, you’ll be surprised how quickly it disappears!
Learn more about the Kellogg’s fibre cereals at https://www.kelloggs.com.au/en_AU/health/fibre-cereal.html