So why is gut health so important?
There's a lot in the news about the importance of gut health because it has now been intrinsically linked to both our long-term physical and mental wellbeing. Maintaining a healthy gut is not only vital for digestion and nutrient absorption, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s and improve our mental health. How does it help our mental health? Well 70% of the body’s defences and immune cells are located in the gut and 90% of its serotonin, the happy hormone, is generated here. Plus, our ‘second brain’ as it’s increasingly known is able to communicate with all our other vital organs.
What is the gut microbiome and the concept of friendly bacteria?
The gut microbiome is a commensal community of 30-50 trillion bacteria, fungi and viruses, which co-exist in harmony. An average human holds 2 kg worth of gut bacteria in their body, that’s heavier than the average brain! Bacteria that is dubbed ‘good and bad’ are both needed to keep a balanced and healthy gut.
A healthy gut is made up of 85% ‘good bacteria’ and 15% ‘bad.’
What are the signs of poor gut health?
Obvious signs are bloating and constipation, through to poor mood, acne, eczema, low libido, brain fog and changes in weight.
What are the main triggers of poor gut health?
Gut health can change even on a daily basis; Stress, poor sleep, trauma, diet not rich in diverse wholefoods, antibiotics and other medications can all impact our gut health.
Top Tips to improve gut health
1. Go for diversity in your diet Dr Megan Rossi the award-winning Gut Health Nutritionist and Research Lead at King’s College London advocates eating thirty different plant based foods a week and 50g of fibre per day (the government recommends 30g fibre per day, but most adults only achieve 18g per day). So cram in colourful foods such as vegetables, beans & pulses, whole grains, fruit, seeds and nuts.
3. Mindful eating Dedicate time to your meals and avoid eating on the run, in front of the TV, or at your desk. Chew and process your food and give your body and digestion the space it needs to do its job well.
4. Get a good nights sleep. Switch off bright screens an hour before bed, and unwind.
Probiotics vs Prebiotics, what is the difference?
You need a healthy balance of both Prebiotics and Probiotics for your gut to function well.Probiotics add new beneficial bacteria to the gut microbiome. Prebiotics are like your fertilisers; they feed the pre-existing good bacteria in our guts.
Good Sources of Prebiotics
*Top Tip: Try adding raw garlic to a sauce in the final minutes of cooking.
Good Sources of Probiotics
Fermented foods such as miso,
kimchi, and sauerkraut
Tempeh (fermented soy beans)
Prebiotics are characterised by a few key factors- firstly they’re fantastic sources of insoluble fibre and can be broken down thoroughly. Secondly, they aren’t digested or absorbed into the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Instead, they bypass the small intestine and head straight to the colon to create a healthy gut environment.
When should I take Probiotics?
As a general rule, it’s best to start taking probiotics if you have any form of gut dysbiosis (leaky gut, IBS, etc) to rebalance the ratio of good to bad bacteria before starting to add in prebiotics that essentially amplify and feed the power of the good bacteria. (except in the case of SEBO- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth- where taking a probiotic may not be the best route
How can Perk!er help with gut health?
Perk!er bars are rich in the prebiotic chicory root which contains inulin- a soluble fibre that feeds good bacteria.