Five tips on digestive health

Your immunity may not be as strong as you think
These days, catching a cold can sometimes be unavoidable. And we all need to work harder to make sure we’re staying ahead of the curve and self-isolating when appropriate. With the Winter season upon us, we often turn to antibiotics when things get worse. But a little known fact is that antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, including the good ones known as probiotics, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.

Probiotics are known to help and there are well over 400 probiotic strains in our bodies. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many are actually helpful – particularly when it comes to digesting food, destroying disease-causing cells, or producing vitamins.

“Staying healthy during COVID-19 is so important and there are often little things you could do proactively to look after your gut health and help give your immune system a lift,” said Meluka Australia CEO Ben Rohr.

“If you’ve recently taken antibiotics, it’s important to make sure you get your gut health back to shape, and probiotics can be the answer.”

Enzymes do all the heavy lifting
When it comes down to it, enzymes play an incredibly important role in keeping you safe and healthy. They are located in your digestive system and are what separate food into the different nutrients that your body needs.

“Most Aussies underestimate the pivotal role that enzymes play in preserving our gut health. When you are first born, you don’t have any of the healthy bacteria your system needs to digest food,” said Rohr.

“As we get older, our enzymes weaken, the muscles in the digestive tract become stiffer, and it makes it harder for the body to keep storing healthy bacteria. But not all bacteria is bad for you, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.”

Antioxidant food and drinks are the way to go
Foods like honey, nuts, seeds and berries contain a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which act as a fuel for microbes that help with digestion. You’ve probably heard of antioxidants before, but they are essentially substances that help slow down or prevent damage to cells caused by oxidation.

Avoid dodgy additives
We’ve all been warned for decades about the dangers of additives like artificial sweeteners, but you may not know why. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in soft drinks) and sucralose (sugar substitute) can disrupt metabolism, reduce gut diversity and can often lead to problems later in life such as diabetes.

“It’s also wise to avoid processed foods where possible, and consume a range of different food types instead,” said Rohr. “Food and vitamin supplements are often not what they’re cracked up to be either, as only a small portion of these are beneficial.”

Go to the countryside and spend more time with man’s best friend
Some studies claim that pet owners have a more diverse microbiome, while those living in rural areas were also shown to have more microbial diversity. Studies have also shown that small quantities of alcohol can increase microbe diversity, but with all vices, it’s important not to indulge too much, as large quantities of alcohol can be harmful to your gut health.