PROBIOTICS & PREBIOTICS

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katie’s guide to eating for your gut

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Did you know. We have 10 times more bacteria in our body than human cells. 10 times more. Most of them hang in our colon where they do much more than digest food. These colonisers (called our microbiome) are thought to massively impact mental and physical health. The gut produces 90% of serotonin. That’s the the happiness hormone you make when you eat chocolate or fall in love.

New research suggests that the range and quantity of bacteria that live in our guts could have a powerful effect on everything from immune system & weight to sleep & mental health. Our busy lifestyles and increased antibiotic consumption (both directly and through the food we eat) are putting our gut microbiota under threat. Don’t stress too much though. There are a few simple ways to improve the diversity of our gut microbiota and help them flourish by making some changes to what we eat.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1556″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1557″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]A developing body of research suggests that foods high in prebiotics and probiotics help and maintain a healthy digestive system by supporting our microbiota. You’ll have heard about probiotics in yoghurts and pills. They are live bacteria similar to the microbes already present in our gut. Prebiotics are literally food for the microbes.Probiotics are commonly referred to as ‘good bacteria’. These compete with potentially harmful bacteria in our gut, therefore supporting the immune system. Live yoghurts and kefir contain probiotics called lactobacilli – a group of bacteria that start the fermenting process in milk. Probiotics also feed off foods high in polyphenols like nuts, oils, berries and chocolate. Polyphenols are converted by our gut microbiota into compounds which improve the diversity of our colon and help bacteria thrive. Polyphenols are found in things like blueberries, kiwi, cranberries and red wine. You’re welcome.

Prebiotics are non-digestible compounds which stimulate the growth and activity of our gut microbiota. you are probably already consuming prebiotics on a daily basis without realising as foods which are high in fibre are usually a great source. Chicory, bananas, asparagus, apples and cocoa are all packed with prebiotics.We are still at the beginning of understanding our gut health. We know our diet has a direct impact on our microbiota and overall health. It’s becoming clearer that a diverse diet which contains a range of prebiotics and polyphenols is critical to ensure a healthy & balanced gut.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text]Prebiotics are non-digestible compounds which stimulate the growth and activity of our gut microbiota. you are probably already consuming prebiotics on a daily basis without realising as foods which are high in fibre are usually a great source. Chicory, bananas, asparagus, apples and cocoa are all packed with prebiotics.

We are still at the beginning of understanding our gut health. We know our diet has a direct impact on our microbiota and overall health. It’s becoming clearer that a diverse diet which contains a range of prebiotics and polyphenols is critical to ensure a healthy & balanced gut.

Here are a few top tips to help your gut microbes thrive:

  • Try to avoid processed and fast food – if you don’t recognise an item on the ingredients list it probably isn’t good for you.
  • Feed your gut bacteria with foods high in prebiotics.
  • Fibre is a great source of prebiotics – try to aim for 30g of fibre per day.
  • Eat antioxidant rich foods, which contain polyphenols, such as berries, seeds, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and dark chocolate.
  • Variety is key – aim for 30 different plants each week.

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SUGAR

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Our Nutritionist’s Guide to the White Stuff

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInRight”]All the sugars are the same. Right? Maybe not.Let’s start with science. Carbohydrates are made up of sugars, fibre and starches and a balanced diet usually consists of 40-50% carbohydrates per day. Most of this should come from fibre and starches (see my blog on the gut if you haven’t already). Sugar on the other hand can be very confusing. There are different types of sugars in the foods we eat and I’m hoping I can explain why not all sugars are same.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInLeft”]Sugar is made up of sucrose molecules, sucrose is a glucose and fructose molecule joined together. Sugar is a great source of energy and fuel for our body, but if eaten is large quantities it can be detrimental for our health, teeth and can cause spikes in our blood glucose levels. You’ll find sucrose (sugar) in a number of different food sources, some of these are naturally occurring, such as in fruit and vegetables and others are added to make the food item sweeter in taste like fizzy drinks, chocolate and cakes.[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInRight”]

natural sugars.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInRight”]There is little evidence that natural sugars in fruit and vegetables have adverse health effects. In fact, studies have demonstrated that a diet rich in plants (800g worth per day) can have some incredible health benefits, including:

  • 25% reduced risk of heart disease.
  • 13% reduced risk of cancer.
  • 33% reduced risk of a stroke.

That’s an overall reduced risk of death of nearly 10% if you just eat more plants. At RDCTD we’re convinced that our diets should be based on plants. We aren’t vegan – but we definitely believe in a plant-led diet and don’t worry about the sugars.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1553″ img_size=”medium” css_animation=”slideInRight”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInLeft”]

free sugars.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1552″ img_size=”medium” css_animation=”slideInLeft”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInLeft”]It is free sugars in particular that we need to eat less of. These are sugars added to foods and drinks by manufacturers and common foods which contain free sugars are chocolate, cakes, biscuits and desserts. These can also be very high in calories and consuming these too often can lead to weight gain.

To put this into context let’s compare two food items. A bar of dairy milk chocolate is around 45g, it contains 240kcal and 25g of sugar. A banana is around 100g, it is 81kcal and contains 18g of sugar. A banana is also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, while the chocolate has very low nutritional value.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text css_animation=”slideInRight”]When it is digested, the fibre in a banana slows down the absorption of the naturally occurring sugar and helps to maintain a feeling a fullness. Whereas the ‘free sugars’ in a chocolate bar are absorbed much faster and can result in a sugar highs and peaks of energy after eating it. When looking at food labels, manufacturers are required to list total sugars– and this could come from ‘added sugar’ such as honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses/treacle, nectars, agave syrup, coconut sugar, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, glucose, maltose. Or it could be naturally occurring sugar found in fruit and vegetables.

So, my top tip for understanding sugar is: rather than looking at the total sugar on a label check out the ingredients list first as ‘naturally occurring sugars’ in fruits and vegetables are very different from ‘added sugar’.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]