YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 12

AUTHOR DR TIM CROWE Tim is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, nutrition scientist and science communicator. Connect with him at www.thinkingnutrition.com.au or through his Thinking Nutrition podcast. FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 EATING YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHY GUT Dietitian Dr Tim Crowe gives us the lowdown on fibre for optimal gut health. You are what you eat. It is a common saying, but when it comes to your health, especially your gut health, what you eat has a profound impact on keeping you and your gut microbes in good shape. A growing field of research is finding that gut bacteria can play a crucial role in your health. Feed these microbes well, and your digestive system will work at its peak capability. A well-fed microbe population opens the door to improved health. Immunity, mental health, heart disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation and even bodyweight is linked to the gut microbiota. Prebiotic fibre is food for gut microbes Eat more fibre. I’m sure you have heard this advice many times before, and for a good reason. Eating more foods high in dietary fibre is one of the best things you can do for your health. The bacteria in our gut play an important part in our health, and prebiotic fibre is the food they thrive on. Prebiotics act as a fuel to enhance the growth or activity of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. Some other benefits of prebiotics include a stronger gut barrier, immunity and even regularity of bowel movements. Prebiotics can also help reduce the amount of potentially damaging bacteria in the gut by altering the acidity, and making it a less hospitable place for more harmful bacteria. Dietary fibre in our diet can be either soluble or insoluble Soluble fibre dissolves in water, forming viscous gels that can bypass digestion in the small intestine. Gut bacteria can then easily ferment the soluble fibre. } Foods high in soluble fibre include barley, oats, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Insoluble fibre is mostly responsible for keeping things moving along the gut. When insoluble fibre reaches the bowel, it absorbs a lot of water and increases the bulk of the stool. It also makes the stool softer, increasing the speed and ease at which it passes through your bowel. This all adds up to helping prevent constipation and keeping your bowel movements regular. } Insoluble fibre is found mainly in wholegrain cereal foods, wheat bran and vegetables. 12 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE