1. Eat green
Leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, are excellent sources of fibre, as well as nutrients like folate, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin A. Research shows that leafy greens also contain a specific type of sugar that helps fuel growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Eating a lot of fibre and leafy greens allows you to develop an ideal gut microbiome — those trillions of organisms that live in the colon.
2. Eat organic
Exposure to pesticides in food has been shown to disrupt and decrease the gut microflora and presence of beneficial bacteria. This is article gives a good overview.
There are also studies which show organic produce contains a greater presence of diverse bacteria, including ‘good’ bacteria like Lactobacillus vs. non-organic produce.
3. Stay hydrated
Loading up on water daily has a beneficial effect on the mucosal lining of the intestines. Water can also promote the balance of good bacteria in the gut.
Taking in an adequate amount of fluid can also help to regulate your bowel movements, prevent constipation, and break down foods in combination with stomach acids and enzymes. Your body will pull any available fluids to help food move through your system, and if there is not enough available, the result can be constipation or bloating with slow digestion.
Herb infused water and tisanes are brilliant ways to help hydration. A good tip is to drink a pint of water and/or hot water with a slice of lemon upon waking and then drinking herbal teas or herb infused water between meals.
4. Sprout or ferment nuts, seeds, pulses and grains
Sprouting seeds, grains and pulses not only helps you transform something dormant from your kitchen cupboard into a nutrient-rich, living food, it’s also an easy and cheap way to create delicious ingredients ripe for culinary experimentation. Furthermore, sprouted nuts, seeds, pulses and grains are easier to digest as the sprouting process removes phytic acid (a protective enzyme) which not only causes digestive discomfort, including gas and bloating, but the protective enzyme also can rob your body of nutrients.
Sprouts are alive, oxygen rich and one of the most nourishing foods you can eat.
Grains, seeds and beans have 15% – 30% more protein.
10 times the B-vitamins, more vitamin C, vitamin E and K, beta-carotene, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
Radish sprouts contain 29 times more vitamin C than milk, 10 times more calcium than a potato and more vitamin C than a pineapple.
5. Include fermented foods in your diet
Fermented foods go through a process of lacto-fermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food, creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food and creates beneficial enzymes, vitamins, minerals, biologically active peptides, and various strains of probiotics. The lactic acid bacteria even produce vitamin K2, which is important for bone health.
The natural fermentation of foods preserves nutrients and breaks the food down into a more digestible form. For example, the fermentation process in sourdough degrades the gluten, making it easier for the digestive system to break it down and absorb it.
6. Feed the good bacteria in your gut with prebiotic foods and wholegrain fibre
Prebiotics are a form of dietary fibre that feed the good bacteria in your gut. This allows your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, which leads to a healthier digestive system.
Here are 10 brilliant prebiotic foods to try to include in your diet:
7. Try to have 3-4 hour gaps between eating – i.e. 2-3 meals a day with no snacking in between is optimum
The microbes in our gut have a 24-hour circadian rhythm like us and need a rest, according to Professor Tim Spector, expert on the microbiome.
‘A regular meal pattern including breakfast consumption, consuming a higher proportion of energy early in the day, reduced meal frequency (i.e., 2–3 meals/day), and regular fasting periods may provide physiological benefits such as reduced inflammation, improved circadian rhythmicity, increased autophagy and stress resistance, and modulation of the gut microbiota.’