GUT HEALTH: A recent interview with Evolve Organics

Recently I was interviewed by Evolve Organics on the topic of gut health, here is a short transcript from the interview...

What is one common mistake people generally make when it comes to gut health?

More is better.

Often when people first learn about the fantastic benefits of good gut health, they can sometimes find themselves over doing it with supplements and fermented foods. If you don’t have any digestive issues it is unlikely you need a probiotic supplement. Furthermore, you don’t need to drink copious amounts of kombucha or eat a bowl of sauerkraut each day to optimise your gut health.

Keeping it nice and simple can likely be the best place to start. Eat more plants and consume small amounts of fermented foods each day.

If you have intolerances, seek professional advise from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who specialises in this area.

In my judgement, prebiotics are much more important than probiotics. Prebiotics are the parts of plant foods that promote the activity and growth of good bacteria in your gut. You can get plenty of prebiotics by eating a variety of plant-based wholefoods.

For a list of prebiotic foods, check out one of my earlier blogs here.

The gut can be responsible for a variety of different health problems, is that right? What are some of the common health issues that can actually be resolved by first healing the gut?

Poor eating and unhealthy lifestyle habits can result in poor gut health, and in turn, poor gut health can be responsible for a number of health problems including: abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhoea, low energy, poor immune function, sugar cravings, skin rashes, low mood, nutritional inadequacies, and so on.

Long term poor gut health can also potentially set you up for certain diseases like chronic constipation, diverticular disease and colorectal cancer.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder that affects around 1 in 5 Australians. Although IBS does not have a known cure, symptoms can be significantly improved and managed via eliminating certain triggers, such as fermentable carbohydrate foods (aka FODMAPs).

Gastro-oesophagel-reflux-disease (GORD), commonly referred to as reflux or heartburn, occurs when acid from the stomach leaks into the oesophagus (food pipe). This can cause a severe burning sensation, and if not managed over time can result in ulcers, strictures and may even cause pre-cancerous cells. By eliminating trigger foods like alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine and fatty foods, you may be able to ameliorate or significantly reduce the severity of your reflux.

Coeliac Disease is a condition caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten; a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. If someone with coeliac disease consumes gluten, the villi in their small intestine are damaged, inflamed and flattened. This results in a number of symptoms and affects the absorption of certain nutrients. By following a strict gluten-free diet, the villi in the intestinal tract will heal, symptoms will likely dissipate and nutrient absorption will return to normal.

What are a few of your all time favourite foods you would recommend for good gut health?

I will start by saying, just eat more plant foods... those that are high in fibre including wholegrains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, are particularly essential for good gut health, gut bacteria health and overall body health.

Here are five foods that I would recommend to the general population:

  1. Oats - rich in a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan; a prebiotic (food) for the activity and growth of good gut bacteria.

  2. Black beans – a rich source of protein and prebiotics, which again feeds your healthy gut bacteria. Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are a great alternative to animal meats.

  3. Walnuts – high in fibre, as well as a good source of alpha-linolenic acid; an omega-3 essential fatty acid. Omega-3 fats can moderate inflammation in the body.

  4. Chia seeds – again rich in fibre, plus they contain a number of other very important nutrients, such as calcium. Chia seeds can help re-form loose stools.

  5. Broccoli – contains a type of fermentable carbohydrate called fructans. Fructans are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, which results in the production of butyrate; a fatty acid that ameliorates inflammation of the gut mucosa, plus improves the motility of your stools.