All disease begins in the gut” – Hippocrates
A quote by Hippocrates that dates back over 2,000 years, but we’re only coming now to an understanding of just how right he was. Gut health is the foundation of overall health. As a matter of fact, an unhealthy gut contributes to many diseases including obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autism spectrum disorder, depression and cancer.
Nowadays many of us suffer from bloating, fatigue, allergies and irregular bowel movement; due to food intolerances, chronic stress and a diet high in refined and processed foods, which are also linked to gut health. Our gut is the first line of defense against pathogens, it’s where we digest and absorb nutrients and where our gut microbes are housed.
I am sure you have heard of prebiotics and probiotics. They are active components found in foods and various supplements.Below is a furtherexplanation on how they can help in restoring intestinal flora health,and‘heal and seal’ the gastrointestinal tract.
Known as the “good bacteria,” probiotics are microorganisms naturally found in the human digestive tract that improve the balance of healthy bacteria. Probiotics can ease digestion,and restore gut flora by optimizing nutrient absorption and protection against bad bacteria by building the immune system. Furthermore,it is worth noting that antibiotics kill natural human good gastrointestinal tract bacteria, and probiotics help in getting your intestinal flora back on track after a course of antibiotics.
Probiotics can be found in various food sources, including fermented milk drinks and yoghurt (which contain live bacteria). For lactose intolerant or vegan crowd, probiotics are also available in supplement form and fermented vegetables like Sauerkraut and Kimchi, which can be an effective way to get your daily dose of “good gut health”.
Prebiotics on the other hand,work in synchrony with probiotics. Prebiotics are found in indigestible food fibers that move through the digestive tract and feed the good bacteria. Including foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics will ensure a healthier and balanced intestinal flora to properly absorb essential nutrients, improve bowel regularity and better controlled weight and appetite due to healthy gut hormonal change.
Aim to include at least 1-2 serves a day of prebiotics to help feed the good bacteria in your gut and support immune function. There is a wide range of foods that naturally contain prebiotics – mainly high fiber foods; onions, dandelion, leeks and artichokes, bananas, and wheat bran. Turmeric and fresh ginger are also gut-friendly.
Eating unprocessed and unrefined foods as well as some gut-friendly supplements will help cleanse your intestines and keep it balanced. If you are currently eating a high-sugar, low-vegetable diet, you may want to change your diet opt for high fiber foods. Go for whole foods – the less shelf life the more natural.. the better!
Zein Nimri is an AFPA certified sports nutritionist, NESTA kids nutritionist, long distance runner, cyclist and traveller with big dreams. Follow her on Instagram @Zeinutritionist