There’s a buzz about the key role our gut plays in our overall health and wellbeing, with our gut microbiome – the community of microorganisms (mostly bacteria) that live in our gut – being found to influence our entire body! The gut microbiome has been linked to many disease states from Inflammatory Bowel Disease to Parkinson’s and cardiovascular disease. To support a healthy gut microbiome, here are some simple lifestyle changes to try. Those with food allergies or gut concerns should seek medical guidance before making changes to their diet.
- Eat more fibre
Many Australians don’t eat enough fibre, yet fibre is the main fuel source for our gut microbes. Fibre helps our gut bacteria to produce substances that feed our gut cells, maintain our gut cell barrier and reduce inflammation. Foods high in fibre include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, legumes and pulses.
- Choose colourful fruits and vegetables
The colour, flavour and odour of plant foods are due to phytochemicals which have numerous health benefits, including feeding the healthy microbes in our gut and inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. Foods such as blueberries, plums, purple grapes and red kidney beans are high in phytochemicals and can boost microbiome health.
- Eat a variety of wholegrains
Wheat is a staple part of the Australian diet, and wholegrain wheat found in bread, pasta and breakfast cereals is an important source of dietary fibre. However, it is important to vary the types of wholegrains in your diet to encourage the growth of a diverse range of fibre-munching bacteria. Consider adding other wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa, corn, millet, buckwheat and sorghum to your diet.
- Don’t skip legumes
Legumes are the ultimate balanced food, providing a rich source of prebiotic fibres and phytochemicals to feed the gut microbiome, but also providing a low-fat source of protein and iron to feed the body. Add some canned lentils or chickpeas to soup, salads or stews to boost your intake of legumes.
- Quit smoking
We all know that smoking is not good for our health, but Microba’s own research has revealed that smokers have less species and a lower diversity within their gut microbiome compared to non-smokers.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee
Coffee contains beneficial plant polyphenols as well as soluble fibre that can be used by beneficial gut microbes. Coffee consumption has also been linked with an increase in microbial diversity.
- Keep up the exercise
Regular exercise has been shown to increase the production of beneficial short chain fatty acids by our gut bacteria, which provide numerous health benefits such as feeding our gut cells, influencing our immune system and regulating metabolism.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Dr Alena Pribyl, Senior Scientist and Research Officer at Microba for her contribution.
About the author / bio
Website link: www.microba.com
Dr Pribyl is the Senior Scientist and Research Officer with biotech company Microba, a leader in the analysis of the gut microbiome. She has expertise in human microbiome research, microbiology, and stress physiology in fish. She also has a passion for science communication to support science informed decision making. Dr Pribyl received her PhD in Fisheries Science in 2010 from Oregon State University, was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, and was a CCST Science & Technology Policy Fellow before moving to Australia in 2015 where she started working at the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics at the University of Queensland in the area of the human microbiome. She has presented at many conferences and seminars to science and laymen audiences.