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Gut health during the summer holiday period

The summer holidays usually lead to snacking on sweet treats and drinks more than normal. But what’s all that snacking doing to our gut health?  

Dr. Catherine Wall, registered dietician and nutritional advisor to the Gut Foundation, has shared some advice to get our gut microbiomes back on track as the silly season wines down. Listen to the interview here:

The Summer holiday period is a socially busy of time which is often synonymous with more rich food, alcohol and sweet treats than normal. Such eating and drinking habits over an extended period of time can have an impact on gut health but luckily the gut is resilient! A short term change in eating habits does affect the gut microbiome but returning to, or moving towards, more healthy eating and drinking habits will restore the variety and diversity of the gut microbiome.

What is the gut microbiome?  It is the complex ecosystem of microbes (i.e. bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa that you can’t see with your eyes) and their all of their genetic material that lives in the gut. The gut microbiome interacts with lining of the gut and has many important roles such as producing vitamins for us, it helps breakdown dietary fibre and produces chemicals that are used by and influence how our body responds to the environment.

We think that good gut health occurs when the gut is home to many different types of microbes. At the moment, this may change as we learn more about the gut microbiome, we think the best way to promote a varied gut microbiome is to live a healthy lifestyle (e.g. be physically active, get enough sleep) and eat many different foods. The foods that beneficial gut microbes like the most are plant foods that have not been heavily processed or wholefoods. This would include fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Such foods are higher in fibre and their more processed versions and are the favourite food of gut microbes. Most New Zealanders do not eat enough fibre, so in 2021 why not aim to try and eat 5+ a day of vegetables and fruit at least 5 days every week and buy whole grain bread and whole grain crackers every week? Your gut microbes, and consequently your body, will thank you for it 

Did you know that World Microbiome day is on the 27th of June and we are raising funds for a gut research project to identify those rogue bacteria in the gut microbiome that play a role in initiating Bowel Cancer. Go to our givealittle page at How are Gut bacteria involved in causing Bowel Cancer?