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5 Ways to Improve Your Gut & Understanding Microbiome

microbiome gut health

Guy: With all the years I’ve been working in the health and wellness space, there’s been one thing that has stood out over time. Yes, I believe one of the corner stones of great health is the integrity of the your gut. Not the most glamorous answer I know, but one you seriously don’t want to overlook. Some estimates say that bacteria in our gut outnumber our own human cells 10:1 in our body!

Whether you want to lose weight, recover faster from exercise, increase energy, elevate mood etc, then gut health is worth delving into and applying these simple strategies below.

Welcome to the world of ‘microbiome’. Over to Lynda…

Lynda: What is the gut “microbiome” you ask? Put simply its the trillions of microscopic bacteria that live within your gastrointestinal tract.

Why is it so important to nourish and have a wide variety of gut microbiome? There are many reasons. I have touched on some of these below:

  • A healthy, diverse microbiome protects you from harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses.
  • 90% of our the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is affected by the health of your microbiome and is responsible for a healthy mood, sense of calm, optimism, sleep and appetite.
  • Gut bacteria produce and respond to other chemicals that the brain uses which regulate sleep, stress and relaxation such as melatonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine and GABA.
  • They produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) which promote weight loss, ward off inflammation, protect against colon cancer and are crucial for overall good intestinal health.
  • They improve the strength and health of your intestinal walls, prevent leaky gut and reduce inflammation by maintaining the tight junctions between the cells in the lining of these walls.
  • A balanced gut microbiome helps avoid unhealthy weight gain.
  • Helps to break down toxins and improve the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
  • Helps prevent or reduce nasty symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.

The following are my top 5 gut loving foods. Those that can be easily added to your daily diet…

1. Polyphenols

PolyphenolsDon’t be put off by the fancy word. Simply put, polyphenols are compounds found mostly in colourful fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, red wine, green and black tea. Polyphenols ensure that the balance of your gut microbiome is maintained. They reduce inflammation and improve overall metabolism, especially of sugar (glucose) and fats (lipids). This enhances the quality of your health and prevents disease.

Polyphenols contain antibiotic properties and each polyphenol acts as its own prebiotic, promoting growth of healthy gut bacteria. When the cell of a bacteria breaks down it releases a toxin. Polyphenols communicate with your microbiome, reducing the growth of these toxin containing bacteria.

You can find polyphenols in the following foods and beverages:

  • Fruits: berries, apples, cherries, peach, apricot, pomegranate
  • Vegetables: red onion, spinach, broccoli, globe artichoke, cabbage, celery
  • Herbs and spices: Cloves, ginger, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, chilli, peppermint, cumin
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, flaxseeds
  • Beverages: cocoa, green, black, white tea, red wine
  • Olive oil and olives

2. Prebiotics

PrebioticsPrebiotics are generally the non digestible, plant fibers found in food. They are the foods that feed and nourish the friendly bacteria already present in your gut.

Inulin is the main prebiotic compound found in foods such as asparagus, onions, garlic, and artichokes. Other forms of prebiotics are fructo-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) and arabinogalactans.

Inulin and GOS have much positive research behind it and are shown to prevent bacterial imbalances in the gut, leaky gut, obesity and its complications.

Foods rich in prebiotic fiber are asparagus, leeks, onions, radishes, tomatoes, garlic, artichoke, carrots, kiwi fruit.

Resistant starch is a form of natural prebiotic that is digested by our good bacteria many hours after eating. As the name states this form of starch is resistant to digestion in the stomach and small intestine. It instead reaches the large intestine intact and goes on to feed our good bacteria. RS contain mostly unusable calories and create little or no insulin or blood glucose spikes.

Good RS sources are boiled potatoes and brown rice, that have been cooled down, cannellini beans, black beans that have been cooled down, green (unripe) bananas and plantains. I like to add 1 tsp of organic green banana flour (I use the brand Absolute Organic which is easy to find) to my smoothies or I recommend that people have 2 tbsp of an RS source for lunch or dinner to cultivate a healthy, well balanced microbiome.

3. Probiotic rich foods

probiotic rich foodsProbiotics are the living bacteria that restore and renew our microbiome. They reduce inflammation in the intestines, improve the quality of the gut and reduce absorption of toxins.

Poor bacterial balance in your gut microbiome can lead to inflammation and can affect your body composition and metabolism in various ways. Any imbalance weakens your gut barrier and leads to an increase in inflammation. Weight control and blood sugar regulation is dependent on a good balance of gut microflora.

Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented vegetables, yoghurt and kefir are natural probiotics. They contain their own living cultures of bacteria, which nourish the healthy bacteria in your microbiome.

4. Healthy fats

healthy fatsYour cell walls are made up of fat so in order to do their jobs they need healthy fats such as nuts, nut butters (almond, cashew, macadamia), seeds, seed butters, avocado, oily fish, flaxseeds and olive oil.

Having healthy cells ensures that you are the best version of your inherited genes because whatever enters your cells affects your DNA. Unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils feed the harmful bacteria, the microbes that ignite inflammation, encourage your body to store fat and produce toxins.

Omega 3s, particularly from oily fish reduce gut inflammation and repair the mucosal cells of the digestive system. Gut mucosal cells are damaged easily because they regenerate very quickly- within a 24 hour cycle. They need a constant flow of good nutrition to support their rapid turnover and prevent damage.

5. Apple cider vinegar

apple cider vinagarYour microbiome and stomach acid stimulate your small intestine to produce the enzymes needed to break down nutrients from the food you eat. If you have an unbalanced or unhealthy microbiome or low stomach acid this important signal is not given and digestion is compromised. You will absorb less fabulous nutrients from your food and if leaky gut is present, undigested food may pass through the intestinal wall causing inflammation.

A simple way to improve your stomach acid is to use Apple Cider Vinegar. I dilute 1 tbsp of this household favourite, in water before most meals and use it as my staple vinegar whenever vinegar is called for in a recipe. Salads, slow cooking, sauces.

In a Nutshell

There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that poor food choices such as too many processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats cause disruption in your gut microbiome. So opt for fibrous foods rich in colour, packed full of the ammunition your gut flora needs to ensure you flourish.

A simple option if you are low on time or stuck for choices would be to replace a poor meal choice, like toast & cereal etc with a high fibre 180 Natural Protein Smoothie. Simply mix it with water, a little avocado for extra healthy fats and some low GI fruit like berries which are also rich in antioxidants.

Your gut has the power, it just needs the right environment and your help. Feed it well, save yourself a motza of money by avoiding illness and medications and use your hard earned cash on a holiday instead :)

If you want to delve into t your gut health further, you can start by having it assessed with these tests here.

Lynda Griparic NaturopathLynda is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry.

Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.

If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE

Tired of bloating? Try replacing bad food choices with a 180 natural smoothie – learn more here

Feed Me: Paleo Friendly Meals Delivered to Your Door

feed me real food

Angela: We were contacted by the lovely Lucy at Feed Me Real Food Co. to try out their pre-made meals with no obligation to review them (paleo friendly too). We thought why not – free lunches for the week! Jokes aside, we love everything Feed Me represent and wanted to get behind such an awesome start up business.

We honestly all loved the meals and here’s why… *Sydney based deliveries only at this time*

Their Special Difference

delivered paleo mealsThey only use grass fed, free range, ethically raised meat and poultry and wholefood ingredients. The meals always promise to be:

  • Paleo
  • Gluten free
  • Grain free
  • Dairy free
  • Soy free
  • Seed Oil free
  • Refined sugar free
  • Chemical/pesticide free
  • Preservative free
  • Real Food

So as you can see, they align with everything that we shout about here at 180 Nutrition :)

Here was our menu for the week:

paleo friendly Bolognaise

Monday – Zucchini Bolognaise

(Pork and veal mince, zucchini, carrot, celery, onion, tomato, bacon, coconut cream, coconut oil, garlic, chilli powder, salt, pepper)

OMG I thought this was awesome. I always make bolognaise with beef mince. Really liked the mix of the pork and veal. Also had a bit of a kick from the chilli powder. The portion size was massive for me. Loved the zucchini noodles and they were really thin with a little bit of a crunch.

paleo friendly snacks

Paleo Coconut Bounty Bites

(Desiccated coconut, coconut cream, coconut oil, cocoa powder, rapadura sugar, salt)

These were really great really cold and hit the spot! I popped them in the freezer. They make for a tasty paleo friendly snack. Very easy though to eat them all at once!

 

paleo friendly chicken pesto

Tuesday – Pesto Chicken

(Chicken, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, onions, bacon, pesto (almonds, parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper), coconut oil, salt, pepper, thyme)

The bacon and the pesto made this dish. I love pesto! Store-bought ones are always full of bad quality oil. Great to taste the olive oil. The portion size was good for me.

paleo friendly snacks

Paleo Cocoa-Nutty Bites

(Medjool dates, cashews, coconut, sesame seeds, cocoa powder)

Yummy and nutty and were a great little after lunch treat with a cuppa. They make for a tasty paleo friendly snack. Very easy though to eat them all at once!

 

paleo friendly indian lamb

Wednesday – Indian Spiced Lamb

(Lamb, sweet potato, tomato, onion, seasonal greens, coconut oil, garlic, salt, garam masala, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, chilli flakes)

The lamb had a good kick but not too much. I was the right side of full and the vegetables were nice and crisp.

 

paleo friendly spicy pork

Thursday – Smokey Spiced Pork

(Cauliflower, pork, zucchini or seasonal greens, onion, filtered water, coconut oil, paprika, salt, chilli powder, cumin, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon)

Another good dish. Meat was yummy and tender. Needed a bit of salt but I am a bit of a salt fiend. Cauliflower rice is always a winner in my book too!

 

paleo friendly beef curry

Friday – Beef Rendang

(Beef, coconut cream, carrot, red onion, garlic, ginger, red chilli, coconut oil, lime, lemongrass, cloves, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cauliflower)

Great dish. As with the Smokey Spiced Pork it came with cauliflower rice. Love this as an alternative to rice. Good way to get more veggies in.

Conclusion

Feed Me is a great alternative to home cooked clean meals if you don’t have the time yourself. I would definitely use them again. I could see myself using them when my husband is away as a no hassle option for the week. Guy and Stu are running around most of the time so I can see them ordering these for weekly lunches. They are cranky when they aren’t fed well.

You can contact Feed Me here

Time Poor? Try Our Quick 180 recipes HERE

Paleo Breakfast: 2-Minute Veggie Scramble

Paleo Recipe Veggie Scrambled Eggs

Stu: I love my breakfast and will happily sacrifice a little time in the morning to make it right. While many of us enjoy toast, cereal or fruit, I prefer a gluten free, high protein breakfast loaded with colour. So here it is, my 2-minute veggie scramble that makes the perfect paleo breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 medium mushrooms
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 red/green pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 tab coconut oil
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • cracked pepper

Start the clock…

Place 1 tablespoon of coconut oil into a frying pan and melt. Then chop up the mushrooms, pepper, onion and tomato and saute for a minute. Now add the eggs, tumeric and cracked pepper while stirring to prevent overcooking.

Once the eggs are cooked, remove the veggie scramble from the pan and serve immediately with a pinch of himalayan rock salt. To upscale this breakfast why not boil up a sweet potato and mash with avocado, it’s truly delicious.

Order 180 for your breakfast smoothies here