What's the deal with gut health: are there certain foods we should eat more of? Interview with Liz Kaelin.
We talk about gut health with Liz Kaelin MSc, RDN Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist.
We're asking Liz a question each week to unravel what the deal is with gut health, why it's important and how to look after it better.
This week we ask her:
Are there certain foods we should eat more of?
Liz: I like to think of it as a pyramid, where you have to start with a healthy baseline of fresh vegetables and fruit - in that order. I generally recommend clients to aim for 1 serve of fruit for every 5 serves of vegetables, but that’s mostly due to the higher sugar content in fruit. What’s really important is to eat a range of colourful vegetables and fruit. The pigments produced by plants that give vegetables and fruit their colour are a type of nutrient called a phytochemicals. Every colour you eat has a specific phytochemical, which provides immense health benefits because of their antioxidant activities.
On top of this baseline you also want to eat foods that contain dietary fibre, particularly soluble fibre, which is what you might be familiar with as prebiotics. Prebiotics is what feeds the good bacteria in your gut, known as probiotics. In order for these good probiotic bugs to survive in our gut, they need to be fed just like us, and the food they eat are soluble fibres, the prebiotics. There is a symbiotic relationship between pre and probiotics as you need both to maintain good gut health. Soluble fibre, prebiotics or the “food” for our good bugs can be found in apple skins, oats, peas, potatoes and carrots. Probiotics, the “good bugs”, can be found in fermented foods, such as yoghurt and kefir, together with probiotic supplements.
A common misconception is that gut health can be fixed just with probiotics. Unfortunately, you can’t just take lots of probiotics to feel good. You first need to have a good baseline diet to really feel good. It’s also important to limit certain foods like sugars and processed fats. Even if you establish a good baseline of eating wholefoods, vegetables and fruit, consuming large amounts of sugars and processed fats will undo that good baseline or any supplements you take. Sugar contributes to inflammation, and inflammation is harmful to the diversity and function of gut bacteria.
Next week Liz shares with us her thoughts on "superfoods".
With a career spanning entrepreneurship & innovation, industry, non-profits and academia, Elizabeth Kaelin is Australia’s Most Business Minded Dietitian and consultant for 20+ years who understands food, nutrition, health and startups having recently sold her million dollar business (Caitre’d - the Catering Concierge - featured on Shark Tank.)
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