5 steps to improve your gut health
Time for a quick quiz!
Question 1: How many bacteria do you think live in your gut?
- 38 thousand
- 38 million
- 38 trillion
Answer: 38 trillion1
Question 2: How many species of bacteria do you think live in your gut?
It sounds incredible, but your gut microbiome really is a very popular place. Which isn’t surprising really, when you find out how important it is for your overall health. Apart from playing an essential role in the breakdown and metabolism of food, as well as the production of micronutrients, a healthy gut microbiota has been associated with a host of benefits for nearly every organ of the human body1. Keep reading for some great advice on getting your gut into tip top shape.
1. Follow a diverse diet
Variety is key for good gut health. Eating a wide selection of plant-based foods can help strengthen the diversity of your microbiome, and can also keep you from getting bored at mealtimes! Remember that plant-based foods include more than just fruit and vegetables – you also want to choose ingredients such as seeds, nuts, legumes and wholegrains. In particular, Zespri Green kiwifruit contains components such as dietary fibre and polyphenols, which have been shown in studies to positively impact gut microbiota2-5.
2. ‘Feed’ gut bacteria with fibre
Many high fibre foods contain beneficial prebiotics that can help increase the amount of ‘good bacteria’ in your gut. Zespri Green kiwifruit contains 3.7g of fibre per 100kcal (making it a high fibre food), as well as the enzyme actinidin, which can help speed up digestion6-10.
3. Understand fermented foods and FODMAP
Many fermented foods, such as kefir and kombucha, have been associated with gut health benefits1. However, for some people, certain fermented products can cause further bloating and discomfort. The key here is understanding the word FODMAP. This is a term created by researchers at Monarsh University to represent a group of fermentable sugars known to cause unpleasant gut issues11. If you suffer from IBS or bloating, speak to your doctor about whether you should avoid high FODMAP foods. Luckily, the delicious Zespri Green kiwifruit is considered a low FODMAP food, so you can increase your fibre intake and stay bloat free!
4. Look for ‘live’ yoghurts
These days, the selection of yoghurts in the supermarket aisle can seem somewhat overwhelming! You may be tempted to go for a zero-calorie option, but actually the most important thing to look for is the type of bacteria. Choose yoghurts that contain ‘live cultures’, as these can help keep your gut bacteria healthy.
As we said above, zero-calorie options are not always the best way to keep your gut healthy. Though they may be tempting if you are looking after your weight, the artificial sweeteners they contain may actually reduce the diversity of your gut microbiome1. Instead, trying sweetening your dishes the natural way. Zespri Green kiwifruit is a fantastic alternative, as you can find out for yourself with this mouth-watering recipe for Kiwifruit granola breakfast trifle. It’s also a great way to kickstart your digestive system in the morning.
- Rossi, M. Your 10-step gut makeover plan. The Gut Doctor. Available online: https://www.theguthealthdoctor.com/all-articles/10-step-gut-makeover-plan-healthy-gut
- Paturi G, Butts CA, Bentley-Hewitt KL, Ansell J. Influence of green and gold kiwifruit on indices of large bowel function in healthy rats. J Food Sci. 2014;79:H1611-20.
- Han KS, Balan P, Molist Gasa F, Boland M. Green kiwifruit modulates the colonic microbiota in growing pigs. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011;52:379-85.
- Rosendale DI, Blatchford PA, Sims IM, Parkar SG, Carnachan SM, Hedderley D, Ansell J. Characterizing kiwifruit carbohydrate utilization in vitro and its consequences for human faecal microbiota. J Proteome Res. 2012;11:5863-75.
- O’Hara AM, Shanahan F. The gut flora as a forgotten organ. EMBO Reports. 2006;7:688-93.
- European Commission. EU register on nutrition and health claims (2012)
- The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited. (2015). New Zealand Food Composition Database: New Zealand FOODfiles 2014 Version 01. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from http://www.foodcomposition.co.nz/foodfiles.
- Kaur L, Rutherfurd SM,Moughan PJ, Drummond L, Boland MJ. Actinidin enhances protein digestion in the small intestine as assessed using in an in vitro digestion model. J Agric Food Chem.2010;58:5068-73.
- Kaur L, Rutherfurd SM, Moughan PJ, Drummond L, Boland MJ. Actinidin enhances protein digestion in the small intestine as assessed using an in vitro digestion model. J Agric Food Chem. 2010;58:5074-80.
- Molan AL, Kruger MC, and Drummond, L.N. : The ability of kiwifruit to positively modulate markers of gastrointestinal health. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2007;32: 66-71.
- About FODMAPs and IBS | Monash FODMAP - Monash Fodmap. https://www. monashfodmap.com/about-fodmap-and-ibs/. Accessed February 21, 2018.