‘Gut health’ is hot topic in food and nutrition, as we can see from the vast array of probiotic and fermented foods advertised and on supermarket shelves. The more we learn about the wonders of our gut microbiota and it’s effect on things like our digestion and mood, the more we will see these types of foods pop up.

Things like antibiotics, age, travel, stress, smoking and diet can all play a role in shifting and changing the landscape that is our gut flora. Sadly, ageing is unavoidable, but we have the power to influence some ‘ingredients’ to form a “recipe” for gut health. One thing we do know for sure is that having a diverse array of bugs in your gut is important. Diversity of gut bugs means there is a better barrier between the outside and your insides which equals general health and resistance to diseases.

So if gut health is becoming a focus for you, and you’re wondering what actually works when it comes to improving the diversity of your gut flora, here are our top 10 steps towards increasing the array of bugs in your gut:

  1. Eat as wider variety of prebiotic grains, fruit and vegetables as possible each day, aiming for at least 30 grams of fibre
  2. Eat as much of those fermentable carbs (FODMAP) containing foods as you can without getting bloated or windy!
  3. If eating fermented foods, avoid those that are ‘pickled’ using vinegar.
  4. Make or buy Kimchi or Sauerkraut (not heat treated) instead of pickles as a condiment to add flavour to meals.
  5. Ensure foods that advertise ‘live bacteria’ contain over one billion CFU (coliform units) per serve.
  6. For probiotic supplements, check that they contain least 10 (preferably 15 to 20) healthy bacteria strains.
  7. Aim to eat probiotic-rich food every day (1 billion CFU). Rotate between a small tub of yoghurt containing live bacteria; ½ cup milk kefir or water kefir; ¼ cup unpasteurised kimchi or sauerkraut; and also include some fermented soy bean (miso, tempeh) if possible.
  8. Avoid taking unnecessary medications, check any prescriptions regularly with your doctor.
  9. You may require antibiotics and that’s okay. If you do, just continue to use a probiotic supplement, but take the probiotics several hours apart from antibiotics.
  10. Learn more about fermenting foods. Seek out a local food fermenting course or experts in your local area.

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