A top down image of various green vegetables and fruits that are beneficial for gut health.

Optimise gut health

We now know that the gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our overall health, influencing everything from digestion to immunity to our moods. This complex community of bacteria residing in our intestines can be nurtured through both lifestyle and dietary choices. Let’s delve into some of these ways we can promote a healthy gut microbiome.

Functional Mushrooms

Functional mushrooms like Turkey Tail, Tremella, and Lion's Mane are renowned for their positive impact on gut health. Turkey Tail and other functional mushrooms are high in a naturally occurring fibre called beta-glucans that are found in the cell walls of some plants. They are polysaccharides, which are long chains of sugar molecules. Beta-glucans act as prebiotics, which means they serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria. When you consume foods containing beta-glucans, they reach the intestines, largely undigested. Here in the intestines they are fermented by beneficial bacteria which produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Short chain fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties on the gut as well as antibacterial properties to keep harmful bacteria in the gut from overgrowing. Tremella, often known as the 'beauty mushroom,' offers hydration support, which is vital for a healthy intestinal lining. Lion's Mane, famous for its cognition enhancing properties, also plays a role in cultivating a healthy gut through its’ beta glucan content and by reducing inflammation. Including these mushrooms into your diet can significantly enhance the diversity and vitality of your gut microbiome.

Eating a diverse diet

A varied diet, especially plant foods rich in fibre, is key to a diverse microbiome. Diversity in the gut microbiome refers to the number of different species present in the gut and how evenly they are spread out. Research is now showing us that the key to a healthy, resilient gut is having a high microbial diversity. These different species play different roles in the gut such as aiding digestion, helping with absorption of nutrients and regulating our immune, metabolic and nervous systems. So the more diverse your gut bacteria is the better your gut can be at supporting each of these functions. Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provide dietary fibre, which is essential for the growth of good bacteria in your gut. By increasing the diversity of plant-based food in your diet, you can nourish different types of microbes, leading to a more diverse microbial community. You can add in a vegetarian meal for the week and throw new vegetables into your shopping cart to level up your vegetable game!

Embrace regular exercise

Physical activity isn't just good for your muscles; it also enhances the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Studies have shown that regular exercise promotes a more diverse gut microbiome, contributing to better gut health and overall wellness.

Get a pet

Studies indicate that individuals residing on farms tend to have a greater diversity of microbes compared to those living in urban homes or apartments. The exposure to diverse environments can introduce beneficial microbes to your system. Natural environments themselves are rich in bacterial diversity, which can positively impact your gut microbiome. However, if you're not planning to leave city life behind just yet, there's no need to worry. Research has found that owning pets with fur can enhance the diversity of microbes in your home environment, particularly when exposure occurs early in life. So, if you're looking for another reason to love your furry companions, here it is: they're also beneficial for your gut health!

Sleep tight

Adequate sleep is crucial because it can influence the diversity and number of gut microbes. Poor sleep patterns are linked to negative changes in gut bacteria, which can affect immune function and other body systems. Making sure you are going to sleep and waking at regular times, sleeping in a cool, dark and quiet room and avoiding screens before bed can help ensure a restful nights sleep.

Limit these things

To have a healthy gut microbiome it is important to quit smoking, reduce your stress levels, avoid excessive hygiene practices, limit artificial sweeteners in your diet and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. Studies have shown that smokers had significantly reduced microbial diversity compared to non-smokers. Interestingly, those who quit smoking were able to restore their microbial diversity within just a few weeks. Chronic stress can also negatively affect your gut bacteria, so it is important to engage in stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga. Antibiotics can kill many of the beneficial bacteria in the gut along with the bad. They should be used only when necessary and always under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider. While cleanliness is important, being too hygienic can reduce the exposure to microorganisms that are beneficial for the development of the immune system.

Nurturing your gut microbiome is an ongoing journey, that can bring you closer to a healthier, happier you. These diet and lifestyle tips can help you support a rich and diverse community of gut microbes, which is essential for good health.


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