Dietitian Jo Travers for Love Your Gut

Eating and drinking more than usual is tricky to avoid over the festive period and while enjoying yourself is good, overindulging can put a strain on your digestive system.

January is the perfect time to get back on track and re-set your gut health for 2019, with help from dietitian Jo Travers for Love Your Gut.

The gut is one of the most important organs in our body and keeping it healthy is essential for our overall health and wellbeing. As well as having its own ‘brain’, which contains 150 million nerve cells, the gut is also home to trillions of bacteria that play a vital role in providing essential nutrients, tuning the immune system and even altering the function of the brain and other distant parts of the body.

As Jo comments:The health of our gut has an impact on not only our digestion but also inflammation, our immune system and can even affect our weight. However, with a little looking after, it will definitely look after you.”

5 Top Tips for 2019

So follow these tips from dietitian Jo Travers for Love Your Gut and show your gut some love in 2019.

1 – Eat more plant-based foods

A varied gut microbiota is associated with better health. To keep the bacteria thriving, you need to feed them well. A recent study found that people who eat 30 or more different plant foods each week are likely to have a much more varied gut microbiota than those who eat 10 or fewer.

2 – Eat prebiotics

Prebiotics are fibres often found in plant foods that we can’t digest but the bacteria in our gut can. In fact, gut bacteria feed on prebiotics and digests them for us. Our gut health has been shown to benefit from this in several ways such as reducing inflammation in the gut; having a protective anti-cancer effect and influencing the absorption of nutrients.

3 – Eat polyphenols

Polyphenols are compounds found in fruit and vegetables, cocoa and drinks such as red wine and tea. As well as being thought to have general antioxidant function they may also help gut health by encouraging the growth of “good” bacteria like Bifidobacterium strains, and inhibiting the growth of “bad” bacteria such as C. difficile.

4 – Manage stress

Stress – physical or psychological – triggers a chain reaction in the body, including the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause dysregulation of the communication pathways between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This can mean changes to blood flow and secretions in the gut, which can create better conditions for pathological bacteria and inhibit the growth of some helpful bacteria. It can also affect the movement of food through the gut and result in either constipation or diarrhoea.

5 – Avoid unnecessary antibiotics

Antibiotics kill infection-causing bacteria but they also kill all the other bacteria in your body, including the beneficial ones in your gut. This can increase susceptibility to infections and decrease the diversity of bacteria in the gut which can lead to changes in gene expression and metabolism. While this is definitely a risk worth taking if you have a bacterial infection, if you are suffering from a virus like the common cold, the antibiotics won’t make you better and will kill your helpful bacteria.


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