Contributed by Dietitians Association of Australia
Snack on fruit and nuts
Summer fruits, like bananas and nectarines, and nuts contain prebiotics, which encourage ‘good’ bacteria to grow in the gut. Make these your ‘go to’ snacks, and give them a starring role on share platters for festive-season celebrations with family and friends.
Boost your vegetables
Adding more fibre-rich vegetables and legumes to your day (including your Christmas day!) will keep your good gut bacteria thriving over the festive season. Try in-season asparagus and cabbage, which contain prebiotics, and lentils and peas, for a healthy dose of resistant starch.
Tap into probiotics
Give probiotic foods a try over the festive season. These ‘good’ bacteria can improve the balance of the gut microbiome. Natural sources include everyday foods like yoghurt, milk drinks like kefir, and other fermented foods, like kombucha, kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut and sourdough bread.
Make water your drink of choice
Drinking plenty of water, particularly over the warmer months, is crucial for a healthy digestive system and to ward off constipation. Try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or some festive berries, to plain water.
Slow down and …chew
By simply slowing down meals and chewing food well (aim for around 15 chews per mouthful), you’ll be a step closer to a healthier gut (aka banishing belly bloat!). Chewing slowly gives your brain a chance to register when you’re full, so helps prevent overeating – and the digestive discomfort that goes with it. Make chewing slowly your Christmas dinner goal!
Digestive health is currently one of the hottest topics in nutrition. But why this sudden interest in a healthy gut?
The role of the gut microbiome (also called ‘microbiota’) in health and disease is an area of intensive research – and is making media headlines, with many people keen to learn how to tap into the benefits, including through the foods they eat. But the gut microbiome is a rapidly developing and young field, and there are many aspects of the microbiome that are not yet well understood[i].
So how do we reach a healthy gut microbiome, based on our knowledge so far? Aim for a healthy, balanced and varied diet, based around whole foods, and rich in fibre. Resistant starch is also important for gut health, and consider probiotic and prebiotic foods, which are considered safe to eat.
For people who are confused about what the eat or want more specific advice, DAA recommends seeking this from an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). Your APD will be able to translate the latest evidence on gut health, into practical, everyday advice and also has the skills to support you on your journey towards better health.