As we embrace 'the new normal' by way of takeaway drinks, pan-fried lunches and excessive takeaways, one poses the question – should we be doing more to help our gut?
The narrative around gut health has exploded lately as we have grown more aware of IBS, digestive issues and the myriad of intolerances in our every day lives.
And while lifestyle changes affect your gut, which in turn impacts digestion, skin health, immunity, mood and energy levels, how can one counter all of our summery indulgences?
Éva-Hill Hamilton, clinical nutritionist at Irish-owned healthcare supplier Scope, has shared her seven top tips on how to support the immune system as research from the ‘Scope Gut Education Report’ reveals that almost half (46%) of people in Ireland are unsatisfied with their level of knowledge on gut health.
“A healthy gut means a healthy overall well-being," she says.
"Knowing the important role our gut flora plays is the first step in effectively supporting the immune system all year round, particularly in preparation for the winter months.”
Éva’s top tips:
1. Include live bacteria in your diet – Studies show live bacteria support our barrier functions not only in the gut but also in our mucous membranes helping to maintain a healthy balance throughout our body. Try fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut or a live bacteria supplement.
2. Improve your gut diversity - The key to maintaining a healthy resilient gut is having a high diversity of bacteria strains, as they each target a different area of the body. Try to include a wide variety of healthy foods in your diet or choose a supplement with the most types of live bacteria strains available.
3. Eat foods with B vitamins – These vitamins are essential in white blood cell production which serve as your immune systems’ army, helping to search and protect against harmful bacteria and viruses. Good sources of vitamin B in food include eggs, meat, whole grains, and dairy products.
4. Build vitamin B12 into your daily routine – Vitamin B12 is beneficial for the good bacteria in your gut and needed for immune cell production. It is an important nutrient in the immune function and deficiencies have been shown to impact immune cells activity. Some people may have higher requirements for B12, including those who are vegan, vegetarian, advanced in age, have digestive problems, or take antacid medications.
5. Combine taking vitamin C and zinc – Vitamin C and zinc are needed for immune cell function. Fresh raw fruits, vegetables, and herbs are the best sources of vitamin C, while shellfish (especially oysters), fish, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and brown rice are rich in zinc.
6. Take cod liver oil – Cod liver oil contains omega 3 and vitamins A and D, which are crucial for the integrity and health of the mucous membranes that line your gut, mouth and urinary tract, enhancing the immune function.
7. Drink bone broth – Bone broth is rich in collagen and has long been known as an immune-supporting convalescence enhancer.
Hamilton recommends Bio-Kult Boosted (more info here) the multi-action formulation designed to target both the digestive and immune system. She says it can be used when the immune system needs that extra support, such as when taking a course of antibiotics.
“The digestive tract makes up over 70 per cent* of the immune system, and its proper function is heavily reliant on the balance of gut flora and nourishment of the body,” said Éva.
Main image by @adutakech