Get to know your gut
Ever heard the saying ‘the gut is your second brain’? We don’t blame you if you haven’t, awareness of the importance of the gut to your overall health is only just starting to reach your average IG feed or fitness blog (this one included).
But as we learned from teaming up with Dietitian Victoria Matkovic from Thrive Nutrition - a healthy gut is vital to a healthy body. This is because your gut is made of bacteria or microbes, that help digest food and produce things called short chain fatty acids. The understanding is that these acids send signals to the brain which affect various functions in your body (hence the whole second brain thing. But not all the bacteria in your gut is good, with some of the more harmful bacteria linked to a variety of health issues. Digestive conditions such as IBS and Crohn’s disease, as well as mental health issues like depression and chronic stress have been linked to altered gut bacteria.
To help you improve your gut instincts, we’ve broken down some of the misconceptions about gut health, and offered some insights into what nutritional changes you can make to ensure you keep your gut healthy.
Gut Health Myths
From apple cider vinegar to cleanses, there’s a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding gut health. We’ve debunked some of the fake fitness news about your gut below
-A lot of the health supplements that claim to improve gut health are generally not supported by evidence. Ditch the supplements and focus on including as many plant foods in your diet as possible to promote good bacteria growth.
-Speaking of evidence, there’s absolutely none that exists which suggests that apple cider vinegar, aloe vera, bone broth, milk thistle or marshmallow root powder can improve gut health in any way
-There’s no actual science behind cleanses or detoxes (your body actually detoxes itself each day - you can probably guess how). Again, the best way to support your gut health is through healthy eating.
-Probiotics are not a miracle cure for gut health. Yes, probiotics are beneficial but when it comes to restoring a damaged gut, the best advice is to go back to basics and focus on eating clean, healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and wholegrains.
So what do you need to do for a healthy gut?
Your gut bacteria helps break down non-digestible parts of foods, such as dietary fibre. Fibre is good for your gut as it causes the good bacteria to thrive, which in turn increase in number and kind. Fibre can be found mainly in plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and seed, wholegrain and wholemeal breads and cereals. A good guide is the less-processed a food is and the more fibre it contains
Australian guidelines suggest consuming a minimum of 25g of fibre per day for women and 30g of fibre per day for men.
Emerging research is also suggesting that variety is key, as different foods expose our gut to different good bacteria. It could be time to start mixing up your meal prep - evidence suggests to aim for at least 30 different plant foods each week!
Probiotics are live microorganisms that help restore gut bacteria. Probiotics are naturally found in yoghurt, sauerkraut, soft cheeses, kefir, sourdough bread and tempeh (think fermented foods). You can also buy probiotic supplements from the chemist.
Ultimately, keeping it simple & healthy is best for a healthy gut. If you’re searching for more of the latest nutrition insights & tips to improve your lifting and wellbeing, check out some of our expert-backed resources below.
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