The Eaten Alive guide to good gut health

Spicy Kimchi

As more and more studies show that having a healthy gut and diverse microbiome is linked to many health benefits, we’ve assembled our favorite tips and tricks to keep those microbes happy. While these tips are widely supported by respectable medical and dietary professionals, nutrition is a highly personal thing; not everything is for everybody, and so if you have a pre-existing condition or sensitivity (e.g., to FODMAPS or histamines), please check in with your doctor or dietician if you’re thinking about making significant changes to your diet.                                         


Eat as many different (edible) plants as possible

Diversity in the plant types you consume typically leads to diversity in the gut, as the mix of micronutrients and polyphenols is great the more species of plant you consume. Dr Megan Rossi, The Gut Health Doctor, encourages people to aim for 30 different species a week (our kimchi contains 8, so that’s a great start!). 

Shockingly, 75% of the world’s plant-based intake comes from just 12 plant put that into some context, scientists believe that there are over 200,000 edible plant species in the world.

Load up on prebiotic-rich foods

Prebiotics are specific types of fibre which cannot be digested by your small intestine, therefore making it to your large intestine where they are thought to act as fuel for your gut bacteria, which in turn extracts valuable nutrients from these foods. Prebiotic-rich foods include chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, shallots garlic, dandelion leaves, asparagus, bananas, rye and wheat - look for things which contain inulin, oligosaccharides or fructooligosaccharides.

...and fibre in general

For a while fibre was the unsexiest nutrient, but it’s just so important to many facets of health. Most of us simply do not eat enough fibre, eating on average 18g a day of the 30-50g recommended by doctors and nutrition professionals. Heart health, good digestion and mental health are all thought to be improved with a high fibre diet. One tip here: if you’re going to increase the fibre in your diet, it’s wise to do so gradually to avoid excess bloating and discomfort. 

Eat absolutely loads of kimchi and sauerkraut (obviously). 

Joking aside, as well as being teeming with live lactobacillus cultures, kimchi alone contains heaps of micronutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, phytonutrients such as capsaicin, chlorophyl, carotenoids, flavonoids and isothiocyanate. Even better, the fermentation process improves the bioavailability of these micronutrients. An all-round powerhouse! Other great sources of good bacteria include kefir, live yoghurt and kombucha. 

Don’t overload on meat, saturated fats or booze

As delicious and fun as these foods can be, they’re best enjoyed in moderation as gut health experts believe that large quantities can damage your microbiome and lead to various health problems such as inflammation, heart and bowel disease. 

Take a break from eating (occasionally, for a few hours). 

There’s a post-meal cleaning job that your body can only perform after it has been fasted for 2-4 hours (maybe more if you’ve eaten something robust like a steak dinner). After this short fasting period, the small intestine produces a muscular ‘wave’ motion known as the migrating motor complex, which, among other things, prevents excess bacteria from settling down in the small intestine. 

Persistent grazing prevents the body from getting on with this housekeeping and may - for some people - lead to a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBA), symptoms of which can be excessive bloating, nausea, diarrhea or constipation. Not everyone will be prone to this, and clearly many people snack without issue, but it’s worth exploring if you frequently graze and find you have digestive issues.

Probiotic supplements

While we (obviously) prefer to consume foods rich in beneficial live bacteria, there are probiotic supplements available that can be helpful if you feel you may need to ‘restore’ your microbiome in some way, for example, after a course of antibiotics. This advice is generally given with a few caveats; there’s more research needed to fully validate these claims, research to ensure you’re choosing an effective product, and if you are at risk of having a weakened immune system, it’s worth checking with your doctor first. 


Get a good night’s sleep

Ahhh, sleep, the cure all for many ailments. Your microbiome is thought to be regulated by your body’s circadian rhythms, so regular sleep disruption can have a negative effect on the gut quite quickly. What’s more, many people crave highly processed, high sugar and convenience foods when overtired, which can further throw your microbiome out of whack. 

Try to avoid or reduce stress

There’s a reason we have a lot of phrases like ‘gut wrenching’ or ‘stomach’ churning when talking about fear or discomfort - the direct link between the brain and the gut means that your digestive system often feels stress before you do. Regular disruption in this way can lead to a number of digestive complaints, inflammation and long term mental and physical ill health. 

Stay hydrated

Alongside a lack of fibre, not drinking enough water is one of the most common dietary shortfalls when it comes to digestive health. Water is essential to the body in so many ways, and in terms of digestion it, errr, helps to keep everything moving along nicely.


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