We are out the other end of the ‘silly season’! If you’re anything like me you’ve been working hard to polish off all of that Christmas ham and had chocolates coming out of your ears (I enjoyed every single one). This is typically the time of year we tend to eat a little more than usual, drink a little more than usual and maybe not exercising as much as we usually would. Not that there is anything wrong with that because we all need a little down time. BUT you may have noticed you might be feeling a little sluggish – this is most likely due to not fuelling your body correctly. Over time this can lead to our gut health being compromised. As I’m sure we have mentioned to you before, our gut health really is the centre of our overall health, and if our gut is not healthy there’s a very good chance we won’t feel healthy either. So, what can we do to help repair our gut health after the ‘silly season’? The good news is you won’t need to spend lots of money on supplements (despite what the media might tell you) – just eat real food! Let me explain ….
What are probiotics?
I like to call these guys ‘the seed’. They are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that bring us health benefits by living in our gut. These good bacteria are important for the proper development of our immune system and the balance of our good and bad bacteria. They keep our gut happy!
Common food sources of probiotics:
- Vegetables – sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables
- Dairy foods – yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, crème fraiche, sour cream, aged cheeses (blue, gouda, cheddar)
- Soy – miso, tempeh, natto
- Apple cider vinegar
- Beverages such as kombucha and Yakult
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are the ‘fertilizer’ that help our ‘seeds’ grow. They are a type of non-digestible carbohydrate that are found in a wide variety of foods. They promote the growth and activity of the good bacteria in our gut – so keep our gut bugs happy!
Common food sources of prebiotics:
- Vegetables – green peas, sweet corn, potato, cabbage, broccoli, leafy greens, onion, leek, shallots, spring onions, garlic (raw has a higher content), asparagus, beetroot, fennel bulb, snow peas, Jerusalem artichokes
- Legumes – chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans, cocoa beans
- Fruit – apples, bananas, nectarines, white peaches, persimmon, tamarillo, watermelon, grapefruit, pomegranate, berries, custard apples, dried fruit (e.g. dates, figs, apricots)
- Bread/cereal/snacks – barley, rye bread, rye crackers, pasta, couscous, wheat bran, wheat bread, oats, cooked & cooled rice
- Nuts and seeds – cashews, pistachios, almonds and flaxseeds
- Human breast milk
To summarise, we don’t need to be spending copious amounts of money on supplements to get our health back on track after the ‘silly season’. Below I’ve listed 6 practical tips that will help improve your gut health:
- Include a wide variety of plant foods each day
- Include pre & probiotic rich foods each day
- Limit your intake of processed foods
- Include stress management techniques where possibly
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep each night (7-8hrs if possible)
- Move your body (choose something you enjoy) on most days in the week
If you have already tried all of the above and are experiencing some less then desirable gastro-intestinal symptoms (e.g. gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea etc) contact one of our dietitians today, we can help!