In the past year, lifestyles, including our diet, have changed massively as most of our time has been spent indoors. We know the importance of maintaining a balanced diet, especially in the midst of a pandemic when the focus is more than ever on building immunity. Did you know your immunity comes from your gut? ELLE spoke to three nutritionists about the importance of gut health and what you should / shouldn’t be eating to maintain a healthy gut.
But first let’s understand why it is important to keep your gut healthy.
“In order for your body to function normally, you must have a very well balanced diet between macro and micronutrients, both of which are taken in through the gut (through the inner lining of your intestines and stomach). For example, proteins, carbohydrates and fats are absorbed through the intestines. When your food is damaged, absorption does not take place and inherently affects your immunity and daily functioning. When you don’t consume carbohydrates, your energy levels are lower, and when you don’t consume protein well, you are basically at risk of severe degeneration. If you do not absorb fats well, it will not lead to the synthesis of cholesterol, which is very important. So respect your gut for a happy, functioning life.Explains Dr. Siddhant Bhargava.
The role of the gut microbiome in maintaining immunity
The gut bacteria, or microbiome, is a good bacteria that actually determines your immunity and exists to take care of you. Nutritionist Pooja Ajwani explains, “Immunity is the body’s ability to understand that a foreign object has entered, attack and kill it so that it does not cause disease. And the ability to take in a foreign body or your genome is identified by your gut microbiome. 70-80% of immunity resides in your gut. It determines whether or not you can fight off these infections. This is why your gut microbiome (which is ten times more common than you are) plays an important role in maintaining gut health. They help in the production of important vitamins (vitamin K and vitamin B). “
Illustration by James Steinberg (via Pinterest)
“If your gut bacteria are compromised, it can lead to autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This means that the body starts attacking itself for not realizing what is foreign and what is not. If your gut is not happy, even your mental health will be affected in the long run, as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin are sleep, feel-good, and motivational hormones made by the gut. “ She adds.
Food for a healthy intestinal and immune system
“The quality of your intestines depends on what you eat. Immunity isn’t built in a day by popping certain pills or herbal mixtures, but it’s what you eat over a period of time that determines it. If you are on a sugar diet or refined food, your gut will become full of many pathogens, ”says Pooja. According to Dr. Bhargava use anti-inflammatory agents such as garlic, ginger, flax seeds, walnuts, cod liver oil, fish, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to help improve bowel health.
Preety Tyagi, Senior Health Coach, Nutritionist and Founder of MY22BMI, additionally gives an overview of the food intake for a healthy intestine.
1. Natural probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms that help beneficial bacteria grow in the gut. Fermented foods like cottage cheese, buttermilk, idli, and dosa are natural sources of probiotics. Having them in your diet regularly will keep you healthy.
2. Ghee instead of vegetable oils
Ghee helps reduce inflammation. A teaspoon of ghee added to your lunch or dinner will aid digestion. Vegetable oils that are high in inflammatory omega-6 fats should be avoided. Substitute healthier oils like extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
3. Focus on vegetables
Make sure the vegetables make up a large part of your plate as they are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
4. Add a variety of grains
A food allergy can develop simply by clinging to wheat flour or rice. If you only consume one form of cereal, your intestines become inflamed and various diseases develop. Include 2-3 different grains (preferably whole grains) in your diet, e.g. B. Quinoa, Ragi, Jowar, Bajra etc. It is also possible to use a mixture of these grains. Limiting grains containing gluten can lower inflammation and improve overall gut health.
5. Limit processed foods
Processed foods are high in processed carbohydrates and fats and low in nutrients. They’re also often high in chemicals and artificial additives that wreak havoc with digestion. This nutrient-poor diet encourages the growth of the wrong bacteria and yeasts in the gut, resulting in a harmful environment, poor gut health, and decreased immunity.
6. Limit the excessive use of medication:
Antibiotics, acid, and steroids damage the bacteria in the stomach. Using antibiotics for just a week can cause significant damage to gut bacteria and lower overall immunity. Therefore, antibiotics should only be given after consulting a doctor. Self-medication should be avoided at all costs.
7. Take a probiotic supplement:
Many of us need more probiotic support than simple dietary changes can provide. On the other hand, adding probiotics without changing diet and lifestyle is a waste of money. Try supplementing probiotics at least for a while if you are not consuming real foods, including fermented foods / drinks, and using other methods to replenish the microbiota.