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Start improving your gut health today – here’s how

Start improving your gut health today – here’s how

Start improving your gut health today – here’s how

Ways to start improving your gut health today.

The incredible complexity of the gut and its importance to our overall health is a topic of increasing research in the medical community. Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer.

What we eat is so important to the optimal functioning of our gut and a healthy immune system. We sit down with Clinical Nutritionist, Sally Joseph, and get her take on how better to look after your gut health, and what you should be eating more of to ensure a good balance of healthy bacteria.

 What can be found in a typical gut?

The human gut is made up of more than 100 trillion microbes weighing around 1.5kg, meaning we are technically comprised of more bacteria than human cells. But not all microbes within our gut are deemed ‘friendly’. Good bacteria share the gut with a host of pathogens, including parasites, viruses, yeasts or fungi and ‘bad’ bacteria.

What is the microbiome?

The microbiome refers to the collection of microbes – both good and bad – that live within the human gut.

How is the gut connected to inflammation?

More than 70 per cent of our immune system is contained within the gut. Chronic low-grade inflammation within the gut can be caused by many factors, including food sensitivities, excess sugar consumption, stress, invading pathogens, leaky gut syndrome, and certain medications. This has a detrimental impact on the function of all body systems, namely the brain, due to the ‘gut-brain axis’ – the intrinsic connection between the gut and the brain. It is worth noting many neurological conditions, including depression, have links to chronic inflammation within the gut.

What did you eat yesterday?

I tend to start my day with a smoothie made with filtered water or homemade almond milk, then I throw in a whole lot of alkalizing and anti-inflammatory ingredients like fresh lemon juice, a dash of apple cider vinegar and turmeric, freshly grated ginger, a sprinkle of black pepper, half a grapefruit or some frozen berries, a handful of organic spinach or a green powder, some bovine gelatin powder or hemp protein powder, and flax or coconut oil. For lunch, I ate a big salad with mixed greens, sprouts, radish, avocado and grilled organic chicken, topped with my homemade salad dressing, toasted pumpkin seeds and fermented vegetables. For dinner I had something light – roast cauliflower soup made with homemade chicken broth – and I indulged in one of my ‘nothing naughty treats’ from my new book Love Your Gut for dessert. If I need to snack I have avocado with olive oil and fresh lemon, zucchini sticks with a homemade dip, or some soaked almonds.

What’s one simple and important change people can make to their diet today?

Aside from eliminating gluten, my top pick would be to cut right back on sugar – refined or unrefined – because sugar in any form triggers a cascade of inflammatory-based reactions. This negatively impacts on the entire body, and feeds the growth of bad bacteria and candida albicans – the hostile fungus living within our gut.

What foods are important for keeping your gut healthy?

Each day you should include a couple of serves of naturally fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut or pickled vegetables. Kefir is another great way to help sustain the balance of healthy bacteria within your gut.

Sally Joseph is the author of Love Your Gut – A complete guide to gut health and achieving optimal health and vitality through food.

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