How can I improve Gut Microbiota?

The connection between gut health and overall wellbeing has gained popularity in recent years, with the gut now commonly referred to as the ‘second brain.’ Gut microbiota – the trillions of different microorganisms living in the digestive system – adjusts with changes in diet and stress, then through various biological pathways, impacts the brain. This affects how we view and interact with the world. For example, gut microbiota influences our body’s level of serotonin, regulating feelings of happiness.

This was backed up in clinical study, with the recent SMILES Trial at Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre showing the correlation between gut health and mood in action. Amongst a group of people experiencing depressive symptoms, “research demonstrated that a Mediterranean-style diet including whole grains was directly linked to a reduction in depressive symptoms over a three-month period” said the centre’s Director, Professor Felice Jacka.

Gut microbiota also impacts the immune system and plays an important role in ensuring proper digestive function. Put simply, a healthy gut is considered a non-negotiable for optimal wellbeing. The exciting news is that gut microbiota is not only constantly changing, but directly impacted by diet and what we consume, so small changes can make a big difference!

Here some ideas that could kick start your way to a better gut:

  • Ensure you always have a variety of colourful plant foods on your plate. Try having vegetables or fruit with every meal! Fibre is essential for healthy gut microbiota, so raspberries, mango, carrots, beets and spinach are all great options.
  • Eat high quality grains, like those in porridge or muesli.
  • Include pre and priobiotic foods in your diet, such as onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, kombucha and yogurt.
  • Add fermented foods to your meals, such as kimchi, kefir and unpasteurised sauerkraut.
  • When eating packaged foods, enjoy fibe-rich options which feed good bacteria and balance the digestive system. Try starting your day with 5 Grain & Seed Granola, which has soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistant starch. When making decisions at the supermarket, choose products that have whole grains listed as the first or second ingredient.
  • One or two nights a week, swap meat for legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils or beans.
  • To up your fibre intake further, try swapping white bread or white rice for whole grain bread or brown rice.