A healthy gut is a happy gut. But how do you know if your gut is happy? You cannot see it but you can certainly feel it. When your tummy starts to feel rounder, you may want to take a look at your diet. A flatter tummy is a healthy tummy!
The key to good gut health is having a balance between the friendly bacteria and the bad bacteria. All foods eaten produce bacteria in our gut but some produce more of the not so friendly ones. These will ferment and cause the bloating, gas and other unpleasant side effects.
Why is your gut less healthy today?
Our modern diets do not include enough of the foods that nourish the good bacteria. Our food supply is too refined, therefore not allowing the good bacteria to grow and prosper.
How do you help rebalance your gut?
As a Registered Dietitian, I suggest adding lots of probiotics to your diet on a daily basis; these will help feed the good bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms naturally found in some foods, mostly fermented products like yogurt, kefir, soya sauce, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. Getting enough probiotics in your diet can be challenging, especially in the quantities needed to help the good bacteria grow. Eating fermented foods on a regular basis is important and a probiotic supplement may be needed.
Most yogurts on the market today contain 1 to 2 billion probiotics per serving, but the sugar, fat and artificial ingredient content may not be so healthy. When selecting a yogurt, make sure it contains the least amount of ingredients possible (none of that artificial jargon), with less than 8 grams of sugar, less than 5 grams of fat and with added probiotics.
To choose an effective probiotic supplement, you need to make sure it contains active cells. The amount of probiotics originally included in the product is of no consequence. What is important however, is the amount that is guaranteed at the point of consumption. A good probiotic supplement will have this clearly identified on the label. An example of this is Jamieson Probiotic with 10 billion active cells *guaranteed to expiry date.
Another way to increase the probiotics in the gut is to include a variety of prebiotic- containing foods. A prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient that will help the probiotics already present in your gut grow and flourish. Foods high in prebiotics include: unrefined wheat & barley, raw oats, inulin (chicory root), raw garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelions, uncooked wheat flour and wheat bran and larger quantities of raw fruits & vegetables. In our refined western diets today, prebiotic-containing foods may be lacking. This has prompted the addition of probiotics to foods as well as the usage of a probiotic dietary supplement.
YOUR ACTION PLAN?
- Introduce more probiotics in your diet, every day.
- Include natural probiotics that are found in fermented foods.
- Eat more prebiotic-containing foods, such as raw fruits, vegetables, legumes and unrefined grains.
- Take a probiotic supplement with more than 2 billion active cells to start; titrate up to 10 billion active cells per day.
HELENE CHARLEBOIS,BSc., RD
Registered Dietitian / Nutrition Consultant
Weight Management & Obesity Expert
Nutrition Reporting & Writing