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Wellness Trends

Ingredients for good gut health

Written by

Melissa Fine

Posted on

23.10.14

Gut in a rut? Here’s the lowdown on nutrients for a happy tummy, and the wholesome foods you can get them from.

Probiotics:

AKA good bacteria for your gut, probiotics have shown to have countless health benefits, including improvements to digestive health. High quality research implies there may be a link between probiotic intake and a reduction in stomach pain, alongside other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome* – a functional disorder of the bowel involving constipation and/or diarrhoea, and symptoms like bloating, fatigue and nausea.

Apart from good quality yoghurt (I go for unsweetened, pot-set varieties), other probiotic-rich foods include kefir (a fermented milk drink) and traditional fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.

If dairy or cabbage isn’t your thing, there are now some fun health food products especially designed for good gut health, like Nutraorganics’ Cocobiotics Bar; It tastes like a chocolate bar (thanks to it’s cacao content) and is also full of fermented, probiotic and fibre-rich plant-foods like beetroot, quinoa and chickpeas…A delicious way to increase your kids’ probiotic intake, or your own when you’re on the go; Perfect for plane trips and holidays, which can often take a toll on your gut.

Prebiotics:

These are the ‘food’ for probiotics. Found in foods with a non-digestable carbohydrate content, like garlic, onion, artichokes, leeks and whole grains, prebiotics undergo fermentation by bacteria in the gut, creating an environment that encourages the growth of certain beneficial probiotic strains (‘bifidobacteria’ species).

Fibre:

There are two types of fibre: Soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre – which you get in foods like oats and legumes – is found in plant cells and doesn’t go straight through you like insoluble fibre does. Because it attracts water, soluble fibre delays stomach emptying, so keeps you fuller for longer.

Insoluble fibre is what makes the structure of a plant’s walls. Found in foods like wheat bran, rice bran, whole grains (like brown rice) and the skin of root-vegetables (like sweet potato), insoluble fibre increases transit time (the movement of food down your digestive tract) and so can be beneficial for alleviating constipation.

Water:

And lets not forget about Water, which works in synergy with fibre to get things moving; Without adequate water, dietary fibre may ‘clog’ you up further.

*Source: Mcfarland LV & Dublin S. Meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol 2008; 14:2650-61.

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