Now that we’re out of the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker and into Phase 2, you’re probably wondering how you can stay strong and boost your immunity. Having a healthy gut can help, and you can improve your gut health by making simple changes to your diet.
What exactly is gut health?
“Gut health” refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in our digestive system. These microorgansisms change over time and play an essential role in digestion, immune functions and brain-gut signaling. An imbalance of microbiota, or gut flora, is associated with a variety of medical problems. These include diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, inflammatory bowel conditions, autoimmune disorders and asthma, plus food allergies and intolerances. Therefore, maintaining the right balance of gut microbiota is essential for physical and mental health, immunity and the prevention of many diseases, according to gastroenterologist DR ANDREA RAJNAKOVA and nutritional consultant VERONICA CAVALLINI of Andrea’s Digestive, Colon, Liver and Gallbladder Clinic.
Everyone’s gut microbiota changes over time, as it’s affected by age, environmental factors and diet. In fact, every single thing we put into our bodies can significantly affect the makeup of our gut. So, in addition to good hygiene practices, our diet plays a huge role in reducing any possibilities of getting sick.
Making simple changes to your diet for a healthy gut
In order to improve your immunity, it is essential to create a balance between our good and bad gut bacteria, say Dr Andrea and Veronica. To do this, they suggest:
#1 Working probiotics into your diet
“We have to nourish our bodies with probiotics, which are foods that help strengthen your gut flora and, consequently, your immune system,” say Dr Andrea and Veronica.
Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh and miso contain probiotics, as do fermented dairy products such as yoghurt, kefir and buttermilk.
#2 Boosting your Vitamin D intake
One way to boost your body’s vitamin D levels is with food; think salmon, mackerel, tuna and egg yolk. Having said that, food isn’t a strong source of the vitamin. So, try to take advantage of our tropical weather to get as much sun as you can (in a safe way), as this exposure can also help support the immune system functions. Enjoying outdoor activities also means increasing your exercise levels!
#3 Eating a diverse range of foods for a healthy gut
A diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one. And, a well-balanced diet that includes all food groups – including wholegrain, protein, healthy fat, vegetables and fruit – can help with that. Dr Andrea and Veronica recommend the following:
- Eating at least three portions of fatty fish per week; this might include tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
- Eating foods that contain healthy fats, which support our immune system functions. These healthy fats can be found in nuts – especially walnuts, macademia, Brazilian nuts and almonds – and seeds, including chia and flaxseeds. You can also get healthy fat in extra virgin oliver oil and avocado.
- Consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables. Guava, papaya, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, kale, peppers, spinach and tomatoes can provide vitamin C, plus a range of other vitamins and antioxidants.
- Consuming at least one portion of raw vegetable a day for better Vitamin C absorption.
#4 Upping your iron intake
This can also help support a healthy immune system. Iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, tofu, baked potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, fortified breakfast cereals, wholegrain and enriched breads, lean beef, chicken and turkey.
#5 Staying hydrated with water
It’s important to get plenty of water everyday, preferably around two litres, say Dr Andrea and Veronica.
“Avoid instant beverages including the ones containing sugar and artificial sweeteners like cola, fruit juice and tea in bottle, some yoghurt drinks and flavoured milk, and energy drinks because they may cause bacterial imbalance in the gut.”
Andrea’s Digestive, Colon, Liver and Gallbladder Clinic
#21-11/12 Royal Square at Novena, 101 Irrawaddy Road
6264-2836 | andrea-digestive-clinic.com
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