4 Free and Easy Tips to Feeding Your Gut Bugs
If you're reading this article you've most likely already heard that it's beneficial to have a healthy gut and to do so you must house beneficial gut bacteria. So how can we do this without dropping cash on superfoods and supplements to heal the gut and promoting the growth of healthy gut bugs? Here are a few simple tips to steering your inner microbes toward a healthy balance.
1. Eat a variety of plant fibres
How? Eat a wide range of real, whole foods. This is one of the most basic and true to the naturopathic foundations of health. This step is essential. Without eating whole foods close to their natural state, and by that I mean fresh produce not processed, packaged, fried or dried, where will we get our nutrients from and what will our gut bugs eat? By consuming fresh produce daily we are feeding our bugs the amount of dietary fibre they need to thrive and colonise the gut. Basically, good bugs eat the good stuff and bad bugs eat the bad stuff.
Certain types of fibres are considered dietary fibres - those that evade digestion and make it to the colon to be fermented by bacteria. In doing so short chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as butyrate are produced. Butyrate is a powerful fuel source for colonic cells and is 'Prebiotics' are a category of non-digestible plant fibres that have been shown to beneficially impact our gut microbial growth.
Foods containing prebiotic fibres include:
2. Leave the skin on your fruit and vegetables
Now obviously Im not saying don't peel your bananas and pineapples.
But apples, pears, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, certain varieties of pumpkin, (even kiwi fruit if your game) to name a few, can all remain dressed in natures packaging. Why? Because the skin of our plant friends (fruits and vegetables) and the outermost layers is where most of the dietary fibre lies. And THIS is what feeds our gut microbes.
3. Get adequate sunshine daily
Sun exposure is the most natural and of course a free and easy way to support healthy vitamin D synthesis in the body. It is known that Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and deficiency leads to dysbiosis (imbalance) of gut microbiome and inflammation of the intestines. Getting at least 20 minutes of safe sun exposure daily, that's in the morning before 10am or after 3pm in seasons with high UV rating is enough to promote healthy vitamin D.
4. Sleep for your gut bugs
Evidence to indicate the close relationship between sleep and gut flora is mounting. You may have heard of the gut-brain axis. This is a two-way highway between the gut and brain. In the same vein, there is now research that shows the important connection between the gut and sleep. Reduce gut bacteria is linked to poor sleep and disrupted circadian rhythm and sleep cycles are associated with dysbiosis.
Gut microflora affect the signals along this highway and healthy bacteria promote the synthesis and release of GABA, serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine, neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy, alertness, and sleep. Imbalances in these chemicals are linked to sleep disturbance. Sleep is also a free anti-inflammatory and down-regulatory of stress hormone cortisol, a chemical that disrupts gut flora balance and intestinal wall health.
So there you go. A few simple and free things you can do to promote the growth of your beneficial gut bacteria and reduce your risk of dysbiosis which is associated with chronic disease and ill health.