You probably have heard of Libby Matthews (Boxall), even if you don't know it. The glowing health guru and mum-of-one is better known as one half of superfood duo Julia and Libby.
In the past the sisters have released two healthy cookbooks, and more recently, their Two Islands range of protein powders and supplements.
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Now Libby has launched her own new business: Dose & Co, a range of powder supplements to improve gut health.
The gut is a point of passion for Libby, she tells Newshub our bodies contain over 100 trillion bacteria, a good majority of which accumulates in your gut, forming the microbiome.
That microbiome helps to provide essential nutrients to our body and help to support the immune system and mood, manufacturing about 95 percent of the body's supply of serotonin (the happy hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone).
Libby has put together her top tips for a healthier gut, for Newshub readers:
Supplement with a probiotic:
Probiotics benefits are some of the most widely researched natural solutions to gut health. For years, scientists have observed the many benefits of probiotics for not just the gut, but for the whole body. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system.
Research has found that between 70-80 percent of our immune system is located in our gut so it is vital that we maintain a healthy gut. Probiotics can help support our immune system, keep our skin healthy, decrease inflammation, and provide protection against inflammatory bowel diseases. Foods that are rich in probiotics include kefir, kombucha, fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut and yoghurt.
Eat more plant-based foods:
If our bodies are made up of mostly bacteria, then what we eat is directly linked, one way or another. Including more plant-based food in our diet helps to support the largely gut-based immune system. Plant-based foods are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A; both of these strengthen the immune system and overall wellness.
Cutting out or cutting down on processed foods, which are made of chemicals have been found to lower the good bacteria in our gut. Often processed foods contain sugars that feed bad bacteria, unlike the natural sugars that are found in fruit and vegetables. Making small and simple changes in our diet can have a big effect on our gut health!
Focus on fibre:
Fibre feeds the good bacteria in our gut so it's vital we are eating enough fibre rich foods. Our microbe extracts the nutrients and vitamins from the fibre which help to improve immune function and decrease inflammation. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fibre slows down the digestion rate of other nutrients, including carbohydrates. This means meals containing soluble fibre are less likely to cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels and may prevent them. It also feeds the bacteria in our gut.
Insoluble fibre acts like a brush in our intestines and is often referred to as 'roughage' because it does not dissolve in water. It holds onto water and helps keep us regular. Foods that are high in insoluble fibre include fruit and vegetables, oats, legumes, nuts and seeds.
It is easier said than done, but stress directly affects our gut health. Your brain and gut health and linked by your vagus nerve which is the longest cranial nerve in the body. It tells the heart and digestive tract what to do. When you're stressed, it sends an inflammatory response through the body, stopping the vagus nerve from sending information.
Stress has also been found to change our gut bacteria by increasing the overgrowth of bad bacteria and digestive enzymes. Some ways to stress less are exercising, deep breathing when we can feel our stress levels rising, talking about what is stressing us rather than bottling it up and making sure you are getting enough sleep.
Increasing water supply and staying hydrated is a simple and inexpensive lifestyle change that can result in numerous health benefits, including an improvement in your digestive health. Water maintains proper digestion and ensures the nutrients are absorbed. It is involved with the production of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes to break down foods. It also helps maintain a healthy bowel, for example for the formation of stools that are easy to pass through the intestines. We should be aiming to drink 2-3 litres of water per day to keep our body well hydrated.