Every part of your body is affected by your gut. Here, internationally-acclaimed specialist in nutrition and fitness Kathleen Alleaume reveals all the foods you should be eating for a healthy and happy gut.
Do you feel sluggish and bloated? Are you struggling to lose those stubborn kilos that just won’t budge no matter how much exercise you do? Are your hormones out of whack? Do you constantly feel tired, or do you struggle to fall and stay asleep? Or have you noticed you’re experiencing anxiety or depression?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it might be time to take a good look at your gut health.
Speaking on the latest episode of podcast Healthy-ish, internationally-acclaimed specialist in nutrition and fitness, and UNCLE TOBYS ambassador Kathleen Alleaume, explains the gut is linked to numerous aspects of health beyond just digesting our foods.
“If we really take a good look inside our gut, there’s actually these tiny little critters what we call bacteria, and there’s trillions of them,” Alleaume tells co-hosts Dr Andrew Rochford and Maz Compton on Healthy-ish episode ‘Happiness from within: How to build a healthier gut.’
“In fact, they actually outnumber the human cells in our body.
“It’s actually linked to mental health, brain health, we’re looking at our immune system and there are just so many things, so we really need to look after our gut.”
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So there’s a good chance you’ve already heard and know about the importance of a healthy and happy gut. But picking up a kombucha or adding a few pieces of kimchi to you plate of food once in a while isn’t necessarily going to fix all your problems.
“You are what you eat, but you’re always what you feed your gut,” Alleaume continues. “They’re the little thing that are going to absorb the types of nutrients and have an impact on certain hormones and transmitters, and send chemical messages around your body.”
Basically, if you’re eating a whole bunch of processed food, the critters in your gut are unable to do their job because there’s no nutrients to absorb and there’s no good chemicals to send to your brain. The key here is to eat real food that is either grown in the ground or has seen the sun, in order to trigger all those chemical reactions the microbiome are responsible for.
Yes, eating your probiotic-rich foods (aka kimchi, live yoghurt and sauerkraut) is important, but Alleaume notes it’s prebiotics that are highly “underplayed” and is what the bacteria thrive off.
“Where these critters live is mainly in the lower part of your intestine and that’s the most widely researched area, so when you’re eating, you’ve got the probiotics in there, but what they want is the prebiotics,” she explains. “You want to feed them prebiotic fibre, so that’s the thing that passes straight to your intestine, it doesn’t enter your bloodstream, it doesn’t raise your sugar levels. They feed off that fibre and that’s what going to cause the chemical reactions you want.”
Prebiotics can be found in high-fibre foods.
“Wholegrains is probably your most excellent source of fibre, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and we can go beyond fibre and look at olive oil because they’ve got things like antioxidants and polyphenols.”
Alleaume concludes, stressing the fact that it’s crucial you change your mindset to see food as medicine.
“It’s not so much ‘we are what we eat’. We are what assimilate as well, so we’ve got to absorb the nutrients. And if you’re having a highly refined diet where the nutrients are not there and taken away from processing methods, you’re not going to get anything, so there’s nothing for them to feed off. If anything, those types of ultra-processed foods being really highly refined is going to cause what we call inflammation in the gut. All that inflammation passes through your bloodstream and starts to line the heart and cholesterol.”
And that’s just a whole other plethora of health issues you don’t want to be dealing with, right?
Kathleen Alleaume is an internationally-acclaimed specialist in nutrition and fitness. She is the founder of The Right Balance. Follow her on Instagram @therightbalance_.
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