Updated: Jan 16, 2020
What is Gut health? An overview
Looking after our gut health is becoming increasingly more popular with more focus being pointed towards the benefits of looking after our gut microbiomes and digestive health. It is now understood that diet plays a significant role in modulating our microbiome, highlighting that what we eat can alter and change the diversity of our microbiomes’. The term ‘gut microbiome’ is used to describe the composition of microorganisms, bacteria, yeast and fungi that create a host environment for our digestive systems to thrive.
Looking after our guts and creating a healthy gut microbiome has been researched and linked to reductions in a number of inflammatory diseases such as IBS, IBD, inflammatory skin conditions, type two diabetes and autoimmune related conditions.
Continuous research is highlighting the profound connection between the gut and the brain, more commonly known as the gut-brain axis. Research is pointing towards the benefits of a healthy gut in relation to healthy cognitive function. Research is continuously unfolding the connection between a healthy gut and reducing symptoms of anxiety related disorders, depression and neurologic disorders such as autism and Parkinson’s disease.
Our skin also has a microbiome! What we eat and the bacteria within our guts can also affect skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis. Further research is required to fully understand the effects of the skin microbial communities and its connection with the immune system.
How can we look after our gut health?
So, what can we do to improve our gut health? The current recommended intake of fibre is 30g per day which is proving tricky for many of us to achieve. Fibre is an essential nutrient in boosting our gut bacteria and reducing constipation. Fibre feeds our gut microbes and creates a healthy environment for our microbiome to survive. Plant-based foods are full of fibre and we need a colourful, diverse intake off fruits, vegetables and legumes to meet our fibre targets. Fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut are great additions to support digestive health. Diversity is key so try to include different types of fibre rich foods each day. Prebiotic rich foods such as potatoes, onions, garlic and oats are also great additions to boosting your fibre intake and supporting optimal gut health. Think wholegrain, plenty of nuts and seeds and replacing your simple carbohydrate sources with complex varieties such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, fruits and vegetables.
Hydration is essential when adding additional fibre to the diet to prevent digestive discomfort. Aim for 2 litres per day!
Sophie’s Favourite Fibre Rich Breakfast
Fibre Rich Porridge
1 cup of gluten free oats
1 cup of almond milk
1 cup of water
1 Tbsp of goji berries
1 Tbsp of pistachio nuts
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of maple syrup
1 tsp of coconut oil
Pinch of salt
1. Place the oats into a non-stick pan with the almond milk, water, and pinch of sea salt.
2. Let the oats simmer until a creamy consistency is formed.
3. In another pan place the grapefruit segments with the cinnamon, coconut oil and maple syrup onto a medium heat until caramelized and heated through.
4. Spoon the porridge into a bowl and top with the caramelized grapefruits, pistachios, goji berries and a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!
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Martin C et al (2018) ‘The Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis’ Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol, Pubmed, Vol 6, Issue 2, p.133-148 (Accessed August 2019) Available at:
Israelyan N, Margolis K (2019) ‘Serotonin a link between the gut-brain-microbiome axis in autism spectrum disorders’ Pharmacol Res, Pubmed, p 115-120 (Accessed August 2019) Available at:
Byrd A, Belkaid Y, Segre J (2018) ‘The human skin microbiome’ Nature Reviews Microbiology, 16, p143-155 (Accessed August 2019) Available at:
The British Nutrition Foundation ‘Dietary Fibre’ (Accessed August 2019) Available at: