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World Digestive Health Day
World Digestive Health Day

What is gut health?

You have many millions of bacteria, also known as microbes, in your body. Most live in your gut and are good for you. They help you digest foods, and turn nutrients into things your body can use.  Their collective genes make up what is called the gut “microbiome”

Why World Digestive Health Day?

May 29, World Digestive Health Day, was created in 2003 to raise awareness about our digestion, and the diseases that threaten our gut.

Signs of an unhealthy gut

The good bacteria in our gut not only help with digestion – they also fight off “bad” bacteria. If you have too much of a bad bacteria in your gut, it will cause your gut bacteria to be out of balance. You are then at risk of exhibiting a host of symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and constipation. This could lead to ulcers, weight gain, exhaustion or diseases like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Be kind to your gut

There are many ways to ensure that you are looking after your gut’s good bacteria:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Keep to a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep alcohol consumption under control
  • Try to reduce your stress levels

The most important way to keep your gut healthy, however, is to eat a balanced, healthy diet:

  • Make sure your diet is diverse. Don’t let fats and sugars dominate your diet.
  • Eat a lot of fruit and veggies. They introduce diverse bacteria which is good for gut health.
  • Eat fermented foods like yoghurt and kimchi. Yoghurt with live cultures have less of the bacteria associated with gut inflammation and more of the good bacteria.
  • Stick to wholegrains, like pulses, nuts, fruits and vegetables, as they contain lots of fibre and carbs that can only be absorbed in the large intestine – the spot where the good bacteria grow.
  • Be careful of eating highly processed foods like biscuits, chips and processed meats. These often contain ingredients that encourage the growth of bad bacteria, which can lead to an unhealthy gut.
  • Choose fish over meat. Too much meat can mean too much iron which in turn can upset your gut balance. Fish, on the other hand, helps bring in more good bacteria.