The system of digestive organs in humans and other animals is considered the gastrointestinal tract. The region of the body below the thorax but above the pelvic region is referred to as the abdomen. The gut or guts area may refer to the above and also digestive system, including stomach or belly. Here David Cox, The Guardian.com, reflects on the subject of boosting the health of your gut:
“A few species of microbe play a crucial role in maintaining the microbiome. From eating wholegrains to breastfeeding, there are many ways to keep them happy.
Eat more prebiotics
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Scientists have identified a few species among the many trillions of microbes that live in your intestines that play a crucial role in gut health and maintaining a balanced immune system. Your dietary intake is vital to allowing these species to flourish and to preventing imbalances that can lead to disease. Prebiotics provide a good food source for certain populations of healthy gut bacteria, such as bifidobacteria, which, in turn, prevent intestinal inflammation. Studies have shown that prebiotics can be particularly beneficial for obese people, as they reduce insulin and cholesterol levels, while lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Prebiotics can be bought as supplements, but they are also contained within foods including asparagus, leeks, bananas, garlic and jerusalem artichoke.
Focus on fibre and wholegrains
Western diets tend to be rich in fat and sugar, with most of our food coming from only 12 plant and five animal species. However, following a diet rich in high-fibre foods such as apples, artichokes, blueberries, chickpeas, lentils, pease and beans can limit the growth of harmful bacteria and stimulate bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and another healthy species called Bacteroidetes.
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Up your intake of fermented products
Fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, kombucha, natural yoghurts and fermented soya bean milk have been shown to promote the abundance of healthy gut bacteria and reduce the levels of enterobacteriaceae, a family of bacteria linked to a number of chronic diseases. Natural yoghurt enriched with bifidobacteria has also been found to alleviate lactose intolerance in children and adults, while yoghurts enhanced with lactobacilli have had some beneficial results in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Avoid flavoured yoghurts, which tend to contain high levels of sugar.”
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