With gut health continuing to be a health trend into 2020, how can you start the new year with a happy gut?

Our body contains trillions of bacteria and viruses which are important for health. Many of these are found in our large intestine and are known collectively as the gut microbiome. Research tells us that these bugs are responsible for breaking down our food to produce vitamins and hormones, helping our immune system and even influencing our mood and appetite. Therefore, it’s important to look after it and keep it in tip top shape, so why not make some New Year’s resolutions to improve your gut health this year?

GP, Ruth Cammish shares her top tips for a healthy gut in 2020.

Eat the rainbow

What we eat is the most powerful way to affect the type of gut bugs as they thrive on different foods.  Diversity of diet leads to a diverse microbiome. Polyphenols found in berries, dark chocolate and nuts are packed with antioxidants and they also provide food for your gut bugs. Challenge yourself to eat 30 different plant-based foods a week (fruit, vegetables, nuts & seeds). Get the kids involved by making a rainbow chart for the week - can you tick off a red, orange, yellow, green and purple food each day?

Fibre boost

Prebiotics are the types of fibre that feed the friendly bacteria and only a third of us eat the recommended 30 grams each day. Fibre supports many functions within our bodies from helping us feel full to feeding our good bacteria. Add prebiotic powerhouses to your cooking like onions, garlic, artichokes and leeks as well as a variety of grains and pulses. A daily digestive supplement like Bimuno® can help to boost your fibre intake to keep your gut bugs fed and happy.

Fabulous fermented foods

Fermented foods contain live bacteria that help keep our microbiome balanced. They are packed with fibre, vitamins & minerals and are a delicious way to add variety to your plate. Experiment with kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi or sourdough. Look for ‘unpasteurised’/‘raw’/‘live cultures’ to ensure the beneficial bacteria haven’t been killed.

Breathe deeply

Stress can result in high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can play havoc with our digestion and our ability to fight infection. It can sometimes cause muscle spasm in the gut wall, leading to bloating and pain. Take a few deep breaths before you eat to allow a ‘rest and digest’ state and a relaxed gut. Chew properly, be mindful of your food and give eating your full attention.

Sleep soundly

How often do you get 7-8 hours of restful sleep? Poor sleep impacts our memory, concentration and even our appetite; getting less than 6 hours can sometimes lead to consuming 200-300 calories extra per day! Help set your body clock by getting natural light on your face in the morning and go to sleep at the same time each night. Making small shifts in our lifestyle has a big impact on our health.  We are more likely to succeed if we start with one goal at a time, e.g. aiming for a new fruit or vegetable in your weekly shop. You’ll be amazed how quickly that becomes a habit and you’re ready for the next change. Let’s make 2020 a year full of colourful plates of food and happy, healthy guts!

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