How often have you heard happiness is a healthy gut? Chances are rarely!
Our microbiome—the collective expression of healthy bacteria and fungi inhabiting our gastrointestinal tract—wields super influence on everything that matters, from our metabolic rate and appetite to immunity, body weight, and even moods.
Call them colon commandos or nano ninja, these microbes mainly live in the lower intestine, forming cool colonies to better our digestion and happiness quotient. When this tribe gets knocked up, pooping issues, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), flatulence, excess weight and more irritants loom up. It is 2022, and a great time to begin on your gut project now, if you’re lagging behind.
The Good Gut Guys
According to Karishma Chawla, functional nutritionist and lifestyle educator from Mumbai, around 80 percent of the immune system lives in the gut. “Gut microbiome connects with human feelings. An optimum gut flora determines how well you feel. From birth onwards till three years, the human gut microbiota swiftly increases in diversity,” she says.
The composition hence fluctuates in response to diet, environment, and antibiotic ingestion. So eating traditional fermented foods allows airborne bacteria to grow on food. “Once consumed, this lactic acid bacteria breeds a healthy population of bacteria in our intestines, preventing diseases and inflammation. The best way to improve gut diversity is to have rainbow colours on your plate,” she adds.
But what’s an assessment of the sound presence of healthy gut flora? Explains Dr Roy Patankar, Gastroenterologist and Director of Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai, “Pain-free pooping, not offloading during the night, and experiencing minimal bloating and flatulence are signs of a relatively healthy gut.”
Eat probiotics, fermented foods, whole grains, vegetables, legumes, pulses, fresh fruits, and beans. It is best to eat fresh, local, and seasonal to pack in the nutrients rather than relying on supplements. “Eat around 25 grams of fibre per day. Consume one fruit a day for a healthy gut,” adds Dr Roy. Of course, the fibre-savvy BFFs of our gut microbiome include pears, apples, bananas, beans, broccoli, and peas.
But if you thought potatoes were the bad guys, think again. Says Chawla, “As we crowd out refined flour, sugar, packaged foods, and go low on animal foods (they alter the gut microbiome), we must add in resistant starch—the nutritional feed for probiotic bacteria in the colon. It travels through the digestive tract without breaking down, becoming fuel for the cells throughout your system.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard