Gut health tips – five foods to avoid for better gut health
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Gut health research has increased tenfold over the past decade as we become more aware of the impact it has on our health – physical and mental. From hormone production to food digestion, it even houses 70% of the immune system. Everything you eat triggers a different gut reaction, and some foods fare worse than others.
The digestive system is considered “the second brain”, due to the millions of neurotransmitters that reside here, so it’s important to fill your body with as many beneficial nutrients as possible to keep it nourished – and of course, avoid those that could. jeopardize it.
Dr Christina Papadopolous, general practitioner at Livi told Express.co.uk: “Not only does the human gut contain trillions of bacteria, also known as ‘gut flora’, but the relationship between your gut and these bacteria plays a vital role in maintaining your overall health.
“Generally, the more diversity in your gut flora composition, the better for you.”
The gut flora tends to include beneficial bacteria, often referred to as “friendly bacteria”, and other less friendly bacteria.
Food plays an essential role in the production of these bacteria, for better or for worse, hence the need to be attentive to the impacts that certain foods can have, in order to better monitor their consumption.
Bloating, fatigue, extreme food cravings, constipation, weight fluctuations, skin irritations and acne are all symptoms of poor gut health.
If you are suffering from any of these issues, it may be a problem that can be resolved by looking within.
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Express.co.uk spoke to experts Dr Jess Braid, MD, Functional Medicine Practitioner at Audio and Dr. Christina Papadopolous on which items you should avoid to improve your gut health.
Large amounts of sugar and artificial sweeteners
Dr Braid said: “While diet is the most obvious gut villain, many people don’t really understand the real gut-damaging culprits in our diets.
She continued: “Following the 40-year misinformation campaign about the dangers of too much fat in our diets, the dangers of sugar in our diets have been downplayed.
“Sugar, particularly fructose, which is a sugar derived from fruits, has been shown to cause leaky gut, disrupt the microbiome, and cause fatty liver disease.”
She adds: “85% of people in the UK eat more than the recommended amount of sugar per day.
While we’re at it, it might be a good idea to cut back on artificial sweeteners as well.
Dr Papadopolous said: “Some research has shown that artificial sweeteners including aspartame, sucralose and saccharin – often found in diet, calorie-free, sugar-free drinks – have a negative impact on your gut flora, altering negatively the composition.
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“This alteration has been shown in some studies to be related to glucose intolerance.
“More research is needed, but it might be a good idea to limit your intake of artificial sweeteners if you hope to improve your gut health.”
hold back the wheat
Dr Braid said: “Wheat and white flour, in particular, are highly processed and inflammatory for our digestive system.
“The way wheat is produced has changed dramatically over the past 100 years, making it a grain you may now wish to avoid in order to improve your overall health and well-being.”
She continued, “Modern wheat is very high in gluten and gluten-related disorders are increasing in incidence all over the world.
“Gluten increases the permeability of the gut wall, making it more permeable, in everyone, not just people with celiac disease.
“When the gut wall leaks, it makes us more prone to immune system problems and autoimmune diseases.”
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Reduce consumption of inflammatory oils
Dr. Braid advises reducing your intake of inflammatory fats in processed foods, especially those made with omega-6s.
These include sunflower oil, corn oil, rapeseed oil and soybean oil.
She said: “These can be extremely damaging, creating intestinal inflammation and leaky gut.”
However, the good news is that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can help counter this – so stock up on fish, nuts and seeds.
Avoid ultra-processed foods
Dr Braid said: “Eating a varied, healthy and balanced diet is one of the best ways to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs – but the average person in the UK now consumes more of the half of her daily calories from ultra-processed, low-nutrient foods.
She continued, “Vitamin D, in particular, has been shown to regulate the gut barrier, microbiome, and affect inflammation in the gut.
As the nutritional quality of our foods declines, often due to over-processing, long transportation distances and extended storage times, vitamin D levels decline, impacting the regulation intestinal.
Cut back on your alcohol intake – or at least switch to red wine!
Dr Papadopolous said: “Heavy alcohol consumption can alter the balance of bacteria in your gut and encourage the growth of bad bacteria.
“Not only is too much alcohol bad for your gut health, it can have a serious negative effect on your overall physical and mental well-being.
However, she adds, “Some studies have shown that red wine consumed in moderation may have a protective effect on gut bacteria due to the polyphenol content – a type of plant chemical that gut microbes love.
“It might be a good idea to replace your usual drink with a glass of red wine, but remember that moderation is always key.”
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