Research has shown that certain components of food can improve the health of our gut and encourage a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria (also called our gut microbiota) have been linked to a number of health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, overweight/obesity, food allergies and depression/anxiety. The major components of food found to naturally boost healthy gut flora and improve the environment of our gut include:
- naturally occurring prebiotics - indigestible carbohydrates that feed the good bugs in our gut producing many beneficial bi-products in the bowel and supporting the immune system in our gut
- soluble fibre - a type of fibre that absorbs water and helps with stool formation
- resistant starch - another indigestible carbohydrate that fuels our gut bacteria
How do they work?
The break down of prebiotics (via fermentation) by the gut flora produces short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in our colon. SCFAs have been shown to provide a number of positive health effects with the bowel including reducing gut inflammation and sensitivity, strengthening the immune system in our gut and reducing the risk of colon cancer. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find that the fermentation of these prebiotics** results in increased gas levels leading to unwanted side-effects such as abdominal bloating, pain, wind or altered bowel movements. Therefore for people with IBS it is important to find a level of consumption that is tolerated. Our top 10 foods to promote a healthy balance of microbiota are:
Nick is one of the specialist gastrointestinal dietitians at Diet Solutions. He has extensive experience in the areas of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, including the low FODMAP diet) in children and adults, diet and microbiome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and coeliac disease. Nick also has expertise with childhood nutrition and weight management in adults and children. For more information about Nick and the team at Diet Solutions visit dietsolutions.net.au