Why has ‘you are what you eat’ got even more meaning than ever before? First of all, Australians do not have good gut health and this has a lot to do with our microbiota.
- 1 in 4 women suffer from constipation
- Bowel cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia
- 1 in 2 Australians have a chronic disease
What is gut microbiota and how does it affect our health?
‘Gut microbiota’ is the collective term for the bacteria, funghi, archaea and other lovely microorganisms that literally live in our digestive tract (which starts at the end of the stomach and finishes..at the other end). These microbiota are a hardworking community that toil away to eliminate waste, produce vital nutrients, break down fibre in the diet and keep us healthy in more ways than we could ever imagine. Yet, for the community to work effectively we must maintain comfortable conditions for them to live including sleeping well and being stress free. We also need to feed them nutritious meals to keep them going and when this doesn’t happen things can go very wrong. Disrupted and low diversity microbiota communities have been linked to obesity, heart disease, liver disease and more recently anxiety and depression.
The impact of diet on gut microbiota.
New and exciting research is rapidly evolving which highlights the significant impact of diet on microbiota communities. It is now emerging that greater diversity of microbiota is key to better health. It makes sense; a community would never run smoothly if everyone was a lawyer or a builder, you need a range of skills and strengths to have an efficient and effective team. The best thing is – you can help create this diversity just from eating a greater variety of plant foods. According to recent results from The American Gut Project – the largest study to date on human gut microbiota (gained from 10,000 different poo samples!) participants who ate greater than 30 different plant types a week had significantly more diverse microbiota than those who ate less than 10. Don’t forget that fibre is the gut bacteria’s main food source. This means eating a diet rich and diverse in plant foods and fibre will keep your microbiota happy.
How to increase diversity in gut microbiota!
Plant foods count all foods that come from a plant (obviously)! So, while this includes fruits and vegetables don’t forget seeds, nuts, legumes/beans and whole grains. Trying to reach 30 different plant types a week may seem like a lot but it is easily doable. Here are some healthy foods IN SEASON this winter to mix up throughout the week to help you reach your quota – and don’t let this limit you! You might even like to check them off as you go and see if you can get them all.
10. Sweet potato
20. Baked beans
23. Pumpkin seeds
24. Chia seeds
28. All bran
29. Brown rice
By: Sarah Gulliver
Image sourced from pinterest.