Body & Fitness

Trust your gut

Get your digestive system on track and your whole body will reap the benefits

Everything from environmental toxins to genetics affects your gut’s bacterial population, but

what you eat is key. While de-stressing and avoiding antibiotics also helps, according to the latest research, you should …

Eat 35g of fibre a day

After 16 days of an increased fibre intake, your gut will contain more of the beneficial bacteria that protect against diabetes and bowel cancer, and make losing weight easier.

Gut bacteria feed off soluble and insoluble fibre, so its recommended you consume a good mix of both. Find soluble fibre in fruit and vegetables, lentils and soy products. Wholegrain foods, nuts, seeds, and fruit and vegetable skins provide insoluble fibre.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

They change both the composition of gut bacteria and how they function, triggering harmful metabolic changes that make glucose intolerance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, more likely.

Take a probiotic if you’re prescribed antibiotics

The right balance of good gut bacteria can usually be maintained by eating a wide variety of healthy foods. But because of the way antibiotics affect gut bacteria, experts recommend using a probiotic supplement if you are taking a course of antibiotics, particularly when it’s a long course.

The reason? While one course of antibiotics disturbs gut bacteria for about a week, taking two courses back-to-back suppresses up to 50% of the resident species of gut bacteria for months. Taking probiotic reduces the risk of experiencing the side effects, like diarrhoea, by 60%.

Look out for supplements that contain the bacterium Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Saccharomyces boulardii, and take them one or two hours before the antibiotic to maximise the protective effect.

Say no to junk food

It usually contains a lot of fat and sugar, two things that gut bacteria don’t like. Studies have shown how eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet causes a loss

of cognitive function. Research has also revealed how high-fat foods effect gut flora, making it difficult to recognise when you’re full.

Stress less

Stress not only causes the bacterial community in your intestine to become much less diverse, say researchers, but it also promotes the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, a combination that lowers your immunity.

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