Five tips about how to eat

Five tips to help improve gut health

The health of our gut has an impact on not only our digestion but also inflammation, our immune system and could even affect our weight. Here are some tips to help your gut health for the year ahead.

1. Eat more plant-based foods:  

A varied gut microbiome is associated with better health[1]. To keep a the bacteria thriving, you need to feed them well[2]. A recent study found that people who ate 30 or more different plant foods each week had a much more varied gut microbiome than those who eat 10 or fewer[3].

2. Eat prebiotics: 

Prebiotics are fibres 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[4]; having a protective anti-cancer effect and influencing the absorption of nutrients[5].

3. Eat polyphenols: 

Polyphenols are compounds found in fruit and vegetables, cocoa and drinks such as red wine and tea. As well as being though tot 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[6].

4. Keep hydrated

For food to move through the digestive system and bowels it needs to be properly lubricated and this simply means drinking enough water[i]. Aim for around 2 litres of fluid every day[ii].


5. Eat fermented foods

Traditional fermentation of foods like yogurt and kimchi, grows lactic acid bacteria which colonise the gut when eaten and may have a positive effect on metabolism[iii]. Bacteria are able to swap genes with each other so introducing new bacteria to your gut may help bacteria already living there[iv].

[i] NHS Choices Constipation

[ii] EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) (2010), Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for water. EFSA Journal, 8: Issue 3, 1459-1507

[iii] Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients.

Nutr Res. 2011 Jun;31(6):436-43. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2011.05.011.


[iv]Horizontal Gene Transfer. Evol Med Public Health. 2015; 2015(1): 193–194. Published online 2015 Jul 29. doi:  10.1093/emph/eov018

[1] Valdes Ana M, Walter Jens, Segal Eran, Spector Tim D. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health  BMJ  2018;  361 :k2179

[2] Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome Lawrence A. David et al Nature volume 505, pages 559–563 (23 January 2014) doi:10.1038/nature12820

[3] McDonald D, Hyde E, Debelius JW, et al. American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. mSystems. 2018;3(3):e00031-18. Published 2018 May 15. doi:10.1128/mSystems.00031-18

[4] Segain JP, Raingeard de la Blétière D, Bourreille A, et al. Butyrate inhibits inflammatory responses through NFkappaB inhibition: implications for Crohn's disease. Gut. 2000;47(3):397-403.

[5] Macfarlane GT1, Steed H, Macfarlane S. Bacterial metabolism and health-related effects of galacto-oligosaccharides and other prebiotics. J Appl Microbiol. 2008 Feb;104(2):305-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2007.03520.x.

[6] Cardona, Fernando & Andres-Lacueva, Cristina & Tulipani, Sara & Tinahones, Francisco & Queipo Ortuño, Mª Isabel. (2013). Benefits of polyphenols on gut microbiota and implications in human health. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry. 24. 1415-1422. 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2013.05.001.

[7] C Konturek, Peter & Brzozowski, Thomas & Konturek, S.J.. (2011). Stress and the gut: Pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. Journal of physiology and pharmacology : an official journal of the Polish Physiological Society. 62. 591-9.

[8] Galley JD, Nelson MC, Yu Z, et al. Exposure to a social stressor disrupts the community structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota. BMC Microbiol. 2014;14:189. Published 2014 Jul 15. doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-189

[9] Taché Y, Bonaz B. Corticotropin-releasing factor receptors and stress-related alterations of gut motor function. iJ Clin Invest 2007; 117: 33-40. 

[10] Antibiotics and the Human Gut Microbiome: Dysbioses and Accumulation of Resistances. Front Microbiol. 2016;6:1543. Published 2016 Jan 12. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2015.01543