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6 essential tips for good gut health

6 essential tips for good gut health
The saying 'Go with your gut' is taking on a whole new meaning these days, as experts are becoming increasingly convinced about the direct link between our gut and our overall health and wellbeing.

As we mark Love Your Gut Week from 16-22 September, it's the perfect time to find out more about the important role your gut plays, and what you can do to improve the health of your gut.

“The gut has been found to do a lot more than just digest the food we eat,” explains Love Your Gut dietitian Jo Travers. “It contains millions of nerve cells, and is home to trillions of bacteria that play a vital role in providing essential nutrients, tuning the immune system, and even altering the function of the brain and other distant parts of the body.

“The health of our gut has an impact not only on our digestion, but also inflammation, our immune system, and even our weight. However, with a little looking after, it will definitely look after you.”

Here are some of Jo's top tips for good gut health...

1 Eat a varied diet Your gut is home to a range of helpful bacteria that train your immune system, digest food, and even affect your genes. To keep them thriving, you need to feed them well. Fibre-based foods are perfect for this, so eat plenty of plant-based foods like vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Learn to cook for your gut with these tummy-friendly recipes!

2 Manage stress Stress – physical or psychological – triggers a chain reaction in the body, including the production of the stress hormone cortisol. This can affect the communication pathways between the gut and the brain, causing a change to blood flow and secretions in the gut, which can inhibit the growth of some helpful bacteria.

3 Eat fermented foods Traditional fermentation of foods like yoghurt and kimchi grows lactic acid bacteria, which colonise the gut when eaten and may have a positive effect on metabolism. Introducing bacteria to your gut through fermented foods can also support the good bacteria that are already living there.

4 Avoid unnecessary antibiotics While antibiotics kill infection-causing bacteria, they also kill all the other bacteria in your body, including the beneficial ones in your gut. This can increase susceptibility to infections and decrease the diversity of bacteria in the gut, which can lead to changes in gene expression and metabolism. While this may be a risk worth taking if you have a bacterial infection, if you are suffering from a virus like the common cold, antibiotics won’t make you better, and will kill your helpful bacteria.

5 Stay hydrated For food to move through the digestion system and bowel, it needs to be lubricated well – this simply means drinking enough water. Aim for around two litres of water every day.

6 Eat prebiotics Often found in plant-based foods, prebiotics are fibres that we can’t digest, but the bacteria in our gut can. In fact, gut bacteria feed on prebiotics and digests them for us. Our gut health has been shown to benefit from this in several ways, such as reducing inflammation in the gut, having a protective anti-cancer effect, and influencing the absorption of nutrients.

To discover more ways to heal your gut, or find someone to talk to about your gut issues, visit

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