Gut Health - Part 1
The gut microbiome is a collection of micro-organisms, including bacteria and fungi that live in our gastrointestinal tract. While we often think of bacteria as harmful, those that live in our gut support our immune system, are involved in synthesising a range of vitamins, help to digest carbohydrates, and communicate with a number of vital organs. So having a healthy gut microbiome is essential for optimal health.
Our diet and lifestyle has a huge influence on the micro-organisms that make up our gut microbiome. A number of food components, such as fibre, prebiotics and probiotics, can help boost the diversity of our gut bacteria. These can be found in foods like wholegrains, vegetables, fermented foods and fruit, just to name a few.
Current research is looking at how manipulating the microbiota may be able to prevent conditions such as obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, anxiety and depression, and gut-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Bottom line is the gut microbiome is complex and currently poorly understood. For optimal gut health, aim for a healthy, balanced diet, based around whole foods and rich in fibre.