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Our gut bugs feed off the food that we eat so if your diet is low in certain foods, the 'good' gut bacteria will starve leaving the 'bad' bacteria to populate further and cause a wide range of issues. Nutritionists spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to offer their insight regarding the best and worst foods for your microbes and gut health.
"The gut is one of the most active parts of the human body with over 70 percent immune cells in our gut," began nutritionist Peter O'Halloran, ambassador of ProYouth Nutrition.
He continued: "Further the human colon harbours about 10 micro-organisms and over 1000 species of bacteria and is considered the most metabolically active site in the human body.
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"These intestinal microbiotas have been shown to play a prominent role in maintaining gut health."
When discussing the surprising foods which can positively impact our gut microbiome, Peter lists:
"One of the ingredients in our bars which is the key source of sweetness is dates, he said.
"Not only are dates a low GI ingredient that releases slow sugars but from our work with the Sports Exercise Scientists at London South Bank University's Applied Science division, we have learnt that they're far better to maintain an even insulin and blood sugar response too.
"In an existing research piece by the National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), it was found that the consumption of date fruits may enhance colon health by increasing beneficial bacterial growth and even inhibits the proliferation of colon cancer cells."
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Peter explained: "In the Nutritional Journal of Biochemistry which studied the functional properties of Whey, the branch chain amino acids include glutamine which is proposed to have a positive impact on the gut.
"Factors such as glycol macro peptides have been identified which exhibit prebiotic and/or probiotic activity and may stimulate cholecystokinin (CCK) release from intestinal cells and inhibition of toxin binding.
"Additionally, Whey protein is a pre-digested form of protein which are readily utilised by bifidobacterial, thus contributing to better functioning of the digestive tract."
What to avoid
"When it comes to the health of the trillions of bacteria in your gut, it's important to maintain a healthy balanced diet and to avoid an excess of certain types of food, said Roxane Bakker, Head of Nutrition and Registered Dietitian at www.Vitl.com
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She continued: "For example, food from animals, such as meat and dairy products, in excess can upset the microflora balance.
"However, in moderation, these foods can be a great source of protein and other nutrients such as choline, vital for maintaining a healthy nervous system and DNA synthesis.
"Foods that contain both simple and sugar alcohols can irritate the gut lining, causing inflammation which may lead to a host of other conditions.
"Processed foods that are high in corn syrup, sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners should be avoided if you're suffering from a sensitive gut.
"Another one to mention is fried foods as the body finds them harder to digest.
"Cooking in saturated fats can further irritate the stomach and fried foods can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the microbiome."
Food is not the only factor to remember when it comes to better gut health.
Stress as we already know can impact the bodies health in a number of ways including our gut health.
"To improve the health of your gut microbiome, make sure you lower your stress levels wherever possible - chronic levels of stress can affect your gut health, said Roxanne.
"The vagus nerve is one of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain.
"It sends signals both ways believe it or not. So, if you find yourself stressed, you may experience digestive issues such as bloating, pain and constipation which impacts the health of your gut bacteria further.
"It's also important to get enough sleep, stay hydrated and eat mindfully giving your gut a chance to digest efficiently.
"You can also look for a daily biotic which helps to promote the good bacterial growth in your gut, keeping your microbiome happy and healthy." Happy gut = happy you."
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