Naturally Good Gut Health

Date: 19-07-2022

Microbiota, the microbiome and your gut!

Have you been hearing quite a bit about “gut health” lately and wondering what it’s all about? Perhaps you’ve heard the terms “Gut Microbiota” and “Gut Microbiome” being tossed about and wondering what it all means? How is the gut linked to our overall wellness and mental health? What simple, easy things can I do to help preserve my gut health, every day in a natural way?

A Microbiota refers to all of the collective organisms that exist in a specific environment – in this case, your gut is the environment. It may help to think of the human gut as a complex ecosystem of 300-500 different bacterial species, as well as viruses, archaea, and fungi – all of these microorganisms together are referred to as your Gut Microbiota. The genetic makeup of the Microbiota (so, something like nearly 2 million genes) is referred to as the Gut Microbiome.[1] [2]

Scientists are rapidly discovering how our normal healthy Gut Microbiome impacts our health and wellness. You may even already be aware that the Gut Microbiome is intricately involved in the regulation of the immune system, protecting the gut lining, is involved in cell regulation throughout the body and protection from colonisation from pathogens.[3] [4] Alteration in the lower gut bacterial diversity has been linked with a number of chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, irritable bowel disease, diabetes and eczema just to name a few.[5] But did you know that your gut health also impacts your mental health? [6] If that’s not good enough reason to protect your Gut Microbiota and Microbiome, I don’t know what is!

More recently the term ‘Gut-brain Axis’ (GBA) has been used as research discovers a direct
link between emotional and cognitive centres in the brain with peripheral intestinal functions.
The Vegus Nerve is the primary connection between the brain and gut, sending signals in both
directions. The brain can affect gut health and vise-versa.

5 Things to naturally improve gut health

5 simple things you can do to help keep your Gut Health intact, naturally, every day, at home!

It likely comes with zero surprise that what you put into your gut has the most impact on how healthy your Gut Microbiota is. Infact, changes to your Gut Microbiota – good and bad – occur within DAYS of making a change to your dietary habits.[7] 

Therefore our top five tips for maintaining a healthy Gut Microbiota are definitely related to what you take into your gut! 

  1. Maintain an adequate intake of dietary fibre, in particular prebiotic foods. [8] Your body generally finds digesting fibre difficult but certain Gut Microbiota bacteria thrive on it, therefore making sure your diet is high in fibre will stimulate their growth. PREbiotics refer to a specific type of dietary fibre or carbohydrate that essentially passes through the gut undigested to the large intestine where it is broken down and used as energy by a particular gut bacteria to thrive. Think vegetables like artichoke, onions, garlic, chicory, asparagus, beetroot, fennel, peas, corn, cabbage; legumes such as lentils and kidney beans; fruits like watermelon, grapefruit, pomegranate, dates or figs; whole grains like bread and pastas made from barley, rye, wheat and oats; and nuts – particularly cashews and pistachios.[9]
  1. PRObiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to our Gut Microbiotas (most commonly Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species) that we can introduce into our guts through foods, dietary supplements and drugs[10], but the easiest and most natural way to include probiotics is to eat fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso!
  1. Limit Artificial Sweeteners. There is emerging evidence that sucralose, aspartame and saccharin in particular may disrupt the balance and decrease the diversity of the Gut Microbiota, increasing gut pH and increasing the pro-inflammatory genes of the Gut Microbiome.[11] Reason enough to avoid, in our books!
  1. Eat a diverse variety of foods in their natural state, and avoid highly processed foods. Some might refer to this as “eating the rainbow” of foods. If different gut bacteria thrive on different types of foods, and our Gut Microbiota is altered by dietary changes, then it just makes sense that eating a wide variety of healthy whole foods will promote a diverse Gut Microbiota!
  1. And for those who are growing tiny humans: exclusively breastfeeding for at least six months! Not only does breastmilk contain beneficial bacteria to help colonise your wee one’s gut with a healthy Microbiota, breast milk is also a beneficial prebiotic food for your baby[12]!

So there you go – 5 things to naturally improve gut health, simple things that you can do to help preserve and improve Gut Health for you and your family.

To book an appointment with a NIIM Practitioner, give us a call or contact us here.


[1] Quigley, E. M. M. (2013) Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease;  Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY), Sep; 9(9):560-596: Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983973/ Accessed 15/07/22.

[2] FIOS Genomics. (2022) Microbiome vs Microbiota. Available: https://www.fiosgenomics.com/microbiome-vs-microbiota/#:~:text=The%20microbiome%20refers%20to%20the,bacteria%2C%20viruses%2C%20and%20fungi. Accessed 15/07/22.

[3] Quigley, E. M. M. (2013) Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease;  Gastroenterol Hepatol (NY), Sep; 9(9):560-596: Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983973/ Accessed 15/07/22.

[4] Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. (2022). The Microbiome; The Nutrition Source; Available: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/ Accessed: 15/07/22.

[5] Valdes, A.M.; Walter, J.; Segal, E.; & Spector, T.D. (2018) Role of the Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Health; BMJ 361:k2179. Available: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179 Accessed: 15/07/22.

[6] Pennisi, E. (2022). Gut Microbe Linked to Depression in Large Health Study; Science, Available: https://www.science.org/content/article/gut-microbe-linked-depression-large-health-study Accessed: 15/07/22

[7] Valdes, A.M.; Walter, J.; Segal, E.; & Spector, T.D. (2018) Role of the Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Health; BMJ 361:k2179. Available: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179 Accessed: 15/07/22.

[8] VicHealth. (2021) How to Improve your Gut Health. Available: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/be-healthy/how-to-improve-your-gut-health Accessed: 15/07/22.

[9] Translational Nutrition Research Team, Monash University, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Central Clinical School. (2022) Dietary Fibre and Natural Prebiotics for Gut Health: FAQs. Available: /https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq Accessed: 15/07/22

[10] Valdes, A.M.; Walter, J.; Segal, E.; & Spector, T.D. (2018) Role of the Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Health; BMJ 361:k2179. Available: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179 Accessed: 15/07/22.

[11] Valdes, A.M.; Walter, J.; Segal, E.; & Spector, T.D. (2018) Role of the Gut Microbiota in Nutrition and Health; BMJ 361:k2179. Available: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179 Accessed: 15/07/22.

[12] Translational Nutrition Research Team, Monash University, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Central Clinical School. (2022) Dietary Fibre and Natural Prebiotics for Gut Health: FAQs. Available: /https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq Accessed: 15/07/22