Gut health is a huge trend at the moment, except it’s not just another health fad. The body of research into gut health is growing constantly, and we’ve only recently really started understanding the importance of gut health to overall health.
There are billions of bacteria living in your gut, which are collectively known as the gut microbiome. Having a diverse gut microbiome is a marker of overall good health, and although this varies from person to person, the basic concept of how we look after our gut holds true for most people: prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are the food for all your bacteria, and probiotics are the live good bacteria that outcompete bad or harmful bacteria that live in your intestines.
Fermented Foods & Kombucha
One of the ways you can get a dose of good bacteria in your diet is through fermented foods, which may not sound to appealing, but luckily there are some delicious tasting ones around now! So even if the idea of sauerkraut makes your skin crawl, kombucha is a drink that tastes great whilst also doing good things for your gut.
The basic ingredients in kombucha are yeast, sugar, tea, and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, basically the amazing bacteria!). The mixture is then left to ferment, during which time bacteria feed on the sugar and multiply. Acids and a small amount of alcohol also form (which is why kombucha is a great alternative to alcoholic drinks!) These bacteria are the probiotics.
If you find you have gut symptoms such as excessive bloating, pain, wind, or diarrhoea, probiotics may help alleviate these symptoms and help you feel more comfortable. Particularly if you’re taking antibiotics, which in some people may have a negative impact on your gut bacteria, taking probiotics can help make sure the antibiotics don’t deplete the bacteria in your gut. It’s now recommended that you take probiotics for the duration you’re on antibiotics, and a little while after as well just to be sure.
Probiotics provide your gut with healthy bacteria. These bacteria can improve many aspects of health, including digestion and inflammation, and they affect many organs in your body, from the digestive system, to the brain, kidneys, liver, and heart.
So how do they work?
The bacteria in your gut digest the fibre in your diet and produce substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFA). These substances are the ones that have been shown to help stabilise blood sugar levels, reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase absorption of minerals, and stimulate production of immune cells. All great stuff!
So, what’s the catch? Where’s the snark and sarcasm? Well, kombucha isn’t going to cure cancer (although I’m sure there’s someone claiming shit like that somewhere), but it’s pretty good stuff! If you’re worried you won’t like the taste of it, there’s some really delicious flavours out there now.
My personal favourite is the PJ Kombucha ginger and lime. It tastes awesome!