We receive so many mixed messages about food these days, it really is little wonder that almost half of Aussies feel more confused than ever about which foods are healthy. Dr Gina Levy, reveals the secrets to good gut health.
Nowadays, it seems that many of us are choosing to ditch carbohydrate foods. A recent survey from the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council revealed that nearly one in two Australians are deliberately limiting their intake of grain foods including bread, cereals and rice. One consequence of this avoidance is that it can lower our fibre intakes, especially if we are not indulging in lots of fruit and vegetables. This is likely to have an impact on our gut health and could result in unintended consequences.
The gut is a hot topic largely because of emerging research showing the impact of gut bacteria on our overall health and wellbeing. There are over 100 trillion different microbes living in the lower gut that can collectively weigh up to 2kg. These microbes make up a highly complex ecosystem with bacteria competing for space and food, which is why it is so important to nurture the good bacteria so they can outnumber the bad ones.
Looking after the good bacteria in your gut is a real investment in long-term health – if you look after them, they look after you. The good bacteria work for us to support our immune systems, improve nutrient absorption and produce compounds that help keep our bowels healthy. There is also emerging evidence they play a role in controlling mood. As further research comes to light, we are learning more and more about the important role these microbes play in keeping us balanced.
Keeping the good bacteria healthy and happy is not as difficult as it may seem and the first step is to give them the food they need to grow and thrive. Good bacteria, like bifidobacterium and lactobacillus, need fibre to multiply and they rely on this food source to ensure they flourish.
Sadly, Aussies aren’t eating enough fibre, with studies showing that two out of three adults are not getting enough. We are so focused on avoiding foods that we fail to look at whether we are eating enough fibre and, perhaps even more importantly, where that fibre comes from. Fibre comes from a range of different plant foods including vegetables, fruit, high fibre cereals and whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes (peanuts, chickpeas and lentils). Eating all of these foods will help you to get all the different fibres you need for gut health.
The science also tell us that fibre from grains is the most protective fibre against chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and so eating the right grain foods that contain whole grain or natural fibre is very important.
Whole grain foods and foods high in natural fibre can be found in your regular supermarket or grocery store, there is no need to buy fancy supplements or superfoods from health food stores.
Starting the day with a whole grain or high fibre breakfast cereal, milk and some fruit is a great way to get the first dose. Tuck into a salad with some lean protein, avocado and a slice of wholemeal bread at lunch, and include vegetables and some brown rice at dinner. Snack on nuts, seeds and fruit when you are feeling a bit peckish.
Kellogg’s has been investing in fibre for decades and, as one of Australia’s largest providers of cereal fibre, we want to make it easy to get more fibre in a tasty way. Our portfolio of cereals contains 17 different options that either are a source of or are high in grain fibre, so there is plenty of choice. Combine cereals with other gut loving ingredients such as fruit, vegetables and foods that have probiotics (good bacteria) to add texture and flavour.
Loved reading this? Read more great articles – Get your gut in order now to fight off winter bugs!