Written by Jeannette Hyde, author of ‘The Gut Makeover’ and a leading registered nutritional therapist. Jeannette runs a private practice in central London, working with clients on gut-related issues.
The health of our gut, our digestive system, and the bacteria living in it have been found to be key to many areas of our health – from tummy issues, to immune system, mind, weight, and skin – according to cutting-edge research (1,2,3,4,5).
The “microbiome” is the name given to the trillions of bacteria living in and on us, the highest proportion being in the last section of the digestive system, the colon (2,5).
A microbiome with lots of different types of bugs in it (diversity of bugs is good!) and “friendly” ones flourishing, has been linked with good health, whereas a microbiome lacking diversity and friendly bugs has been linked with obesity and ill health(4).
A microbiome teeming with friendly bacteria helps our immune system – about 70 per cent of the immune system is right there in the gut (2,6).
Feeding the microbiome friendly bacteria may also help support emotional health and cognition – there is a long nerve called the vagus which goes directly from the gut to brain carrying signals (3,7). No wonder the gut has been dubbed our second brain!
The microbiome can be shaped by our diet, stress, exercise, and drugs such as antibiotics. By leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle, we can help influence the composition of the microbiome in a positive way (2,3,8,9).
One of the key ways to improve your gut health through your diet is to start eating fermented foods such as fermented milk kefir or kefir cultured yoghurt in your diet regularly. Kefir contains billions of beneficial bacteria, which you can parachute into your gut to help redress the balance between friendly bacteria and non-friendly bacteria.
The Collective have launched their own kefir cultured drinks and cultured live yoghurts in supermarkets up and down the UK so it is now easily accessible. The kefir drinks are available in Natural, Mango ‘n’ Turmeric, Berries ‘n’ Hibiscus, and Coconut ‘n’ Honey flavours, and the kefir cultured yoghurts are available in Madagascan Vanilla, Berries ‘n’ Hibiscus, Coconut and Natural flavours. Kefir drinks and yoghurts contain very low lactose after they have been fermented which means they are often well-tolerated by people who can’t usually tolerate milk foods well, and it can help plant lactobacilli bacteria into your gut so you tolerate lactose from other foods better too.