As seen on Now to Love
When it comes to nourishing your health and wellbeing, your gut should be top priority.
"Having a healthy gut is linked with better health in nearly every system of our body, which means you will feel better both physically and mentally," shares accredited dietitian for Meluka Australia, Chloe McLeod.
This feel-good factor is due to the gut-brain axis, which she describes as "a bi-directional communication system between our gut and our brain, where messages are sent both ways."
Developing a great gut-brain connection comes down to your microbiome - the makeup of bacteria in your digestive tract. When it's in top shape, you can expect to bask in the benefits of a stronger immune system, clearer concentration, improved mood, glowing skin, and better digestion.
Feeling inspired? We look at how to nurture your gut microbiome, from probiotics to Pilates and everything in between.
1. Eating plants
We are what we eat, and the diversity of our diet is key to creating a balanced microbiome.
Eating a rainbow of fruit, vegetables and other plant-based food will improve your gut bacteria diversity, as the more depth of natural colour means more antioxidants and nutritional value.
"Include at least 30 different plants per week in your diet. This means you will be more likely to meet your micronutrient needs as well as your fibre requirements," Chloe advises. "And reduce your intake of processed or low-nutritional food."
2. Boosting probioticsThe easiest way to foster great gut flora? Getting your daily dose of probiotics – live organisms that are found in fermented foods and supplements.
"My favourites to recommend are yoghurt or kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi," says Chloe. "Each of these options are a rich source of probiotics that are present as a result of the natural fermentation process."
If you're time-poor and struggling to incorporate fermented foods into your diet, a simple solution is to add a probiotic-rich drink into your morning routine.
For example, Meluka Australia's Raw Honey Probiotic Concentrate drink combines six multi-strain probiotics with the added benefits of raw honey to support the gut-brain axis.
"The bioactive compounds found in raw honey have been shown to assist with short-chain fatty acid production, which further promotes gut health," explains Chloe.
3. Exercising more
Another addition to the long list of benefits that come with getting active? Boosting your gut health.
Whether you hit the gym or become a regular at your local yoga studio, exercising in any form can positively change the makeup of your microbiome. Physical activity promotes the growth of butyrate, a type of bacteria that can reduce inflammation, repair the gut lining and strengthen the immune system.
If you ever need an extra push to lace up your running shoes, just think of your gut.
4. Quality sleep
Your beauty sleep does wonders for the mind and body; it improves your mood, enhances cognition and repairs skin.
But did you know getting sufficient shut eye also leads to thriving gut bacteria, and vice versa? The microbes in your gut produce a variety of sleep-regulating hormones such as melatonin, which help create healthy sleeping patterns through the gut-brain connection.
In short? Good bacteria and good sleep go hand-in-hand.
5. Maintaining hydration
Drinking water is a super simple way to nourish your overall health, including the bacteria in your belly.
Our top tip? Add a fresh slice of lemon into your glass of water to inspire you to drink more. Plus, the polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons promotes great bacteria for a diverse microbiome. It's a win-win!