Many of you know that I’ve become very interested in ways to improve my gut health. I first heard of the importance of gut health (aged 31… why do we not learn about this in school?!) on the Dr Rangan Chatterjee x Tim Spector podcast, and have since learned lots about gut health through the Zoe podcast, which goes into detail about what the gut microbiome is, and ways to improve or maintain its health. While Charlie and I were at the Six Senses hotel in the Maldives, the timing was perfect to enjoy a huge range of delicious foods while we became more and more interested in how important your diet is for your gut health, as we discussed the benefits of organic produce and of microgreens on gut health and on health in general.
As a high level introduction, the gut microbiome is the trillions of microorganisms that live within our guts. Many of these microbes play vital roles within our bodies, as they break down certain foods for us, they secrete hormones and vitamins, and they even play a role in the immune system. It is therefore of great importance that we look after and feed our microbes appropriately, as in return, they will help to look after our bodies! Our gut controls everything from our mood, our energy levels, our immunity and SO much more. It’s the largest organ in our bodies!
5 ways to improve your gut health
The Multi Strain Biotic is a probiotic, meaning it contains millions of live bacteria. These bacteria are strains which are beneficial for your health, and taking this supplement increases the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut! This is fantastic to support the gut, but absolutely does NOT replace a healthy and varied diet.
2 – Eat as many plants as possible each week
Tim Spector and many other nutritionists talk about the importance of variety in the diet, and especially when it comes to plants. The exact number of plant species to consume each week varies slightly depending on who you ask, but I often hear that 30-40 is a good number to aim for. This number may sound daunting at first, however it’s easier than you think! Plants of course includes fruit and vegetables, but it also includes seeds, nuts and grains. Think about how many plant types you could pack into a morning smoothie accompanied by a herby frittata and homemade seed crackers; you could probably get 10-15 plants into just one meal!
Try out my seed cracker recipe here.
3 – Reduce the amount of processed food in your diet
It’s really important to check the ingredients of the foods that you’re consuming, as lots of packaged foods contain long lists of factory created chemicals that are unnatural and that are likely to be harmful to your gut microbes.
Try to only buy products with short ingredient lists, and ones that only contain ingredients you’ve actually heard of before. A good test is to only buy a product if you could hypothetically make the product yourself at home using the ingredient list on the back. Charlie and I try to eat mostly organic foods – and create home made meals as often as possible. We use Hello Fresh and Riverford boxes for ease, and also try to use as many ingredients as possible from our own kitchen garden, and other local suppliers.
4 – Get enough good-quality sleep
Sleep is really important for the health of your gut microbiome. Studies have shown that a lack of quality sleep can lead to increased cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and elevated levels can cause your microbes to secrete hormones which negatively affect your mood and health. Try to stick to a consistent sleep pattern, and aim for 7-9 hours of unbroken sleep each night.
5 – Add fermented foods to your diet
Foods such as kimchi, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut are fermented, meaning they contain live bacteria, and these bacteria are beneficial for your health. Different fermented foods contain different strains of beneficial bacteria, so try to incorporate as many different fermented foods in your diet as possible. If you’d like to learn about ways to make fermented foods at home, I recommend trying this book from Amazon. Our favourites are the Hollis Mead Kefir, and we love The London Fermentary and MoMo Kombucha!
If you’d like to learn more about the microbiome and other ways to improve your health, listen to the Zoe podcast here!