What is the Gut microbiome?
Our digestive system (or Gut) is a very complex system of tissues and organs all playing a unique role in the digestion of our food and the absorption of nutrients from our food.
Found in the Gut is something known as the microbiome, this is essentially an ecosystem of microbes. there are about 500 known species and are largely made up of bacteria. Each person carries around 100 trillion microbes within their body with most of this being in the digestive tract. There is emerging research that seems to suggest that your microbiome may be just as influential to your health as your inherited genes.
So how do i improve it?
There are lots of ways to look after your digestive system and maintain a healthy microbiome. Diet and lifestyle would be the first place to start.
Increasing the amount of fibre and fruit and vegetable you eat these are all really good examples of soluble fibres which are very important for feeding the good bacteria in your gut. Adding Beans and pulses to your diet will also help increase fibre. Wholegrain breads, brown or wholegrain rice, nuts and seeds and oats are also good fibre foods.
Eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh or real live natural yogurts also help the gut and so do probiotic drinks such as Kombucha, milk and water kefir.
Sauerkraut is easy to make at home and all you need is a Sauerkraut crock or a jar with an airlock plus some salt. You can buy special jars but you can also buy lids that can be used on Kilner jars so you don't need to break the bank to get fermenting.
Kimchi is a Korean for fermented vegetables but Kimchi tends to have a lot of spices added to it. You can buy sauces to add to your veggies to make kimchi
Real live natural yogurts such as Viili are also good for the Gut. Shop bought yogurts even if they say they are live do not tend to work so well as they are made with synthetic bacteria rather than live natural bacteria.
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink made from a scoby. It is full of gut friendly bacteria to help your microbiome. kombucha contains several species of lactic-acid bacteria which may have probiotic function.
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion, inflammation and even weight loss.
For this reason, adding beverages like kombucha to your diet might help improve your gut health and microbiome. Kombucha can be bought ready to drink or you can make it yourself, you do not need a large amount of equipment and you can buy either just the live bacterial culture or scoby or you can buy kits to help you make it.
One of the fastest ways to help improve your gut microbiome is to drink milk kefir. In Jan 2017, Dr Michael Moseley of BBC 2’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor found that kefir was the most effective of any probiotic food on the market. He also found that live, traditionally-made kefir (kefir you make at home with real live grains) is more effective than “supermarket” varieties, which may be pasteurised and contain sugar or sweeteners, which will degrade the power of the probiotics. Some are made with synthetic bacteria rather than live natural bacteria.
So making your own kefir at home can really help, if you think your microbiome may not be thriving then add milk kefir to your diet. It is easy to make and making it yourself is much cheaper than buying ready made kefir. It can be made with Cow's, goats or sheep's milk and for the best gut loving benefits it is better not to flavour your kefir.