Skip to main content
Menu

Eating & drinking   |   Health

Eating for gut health

The concept of gut health has gained a lot of momentum over the last few years, but it’s not just a wellness fad. A few years ago, most people hadn’t heard of the term ‘gut microbiome’, but today gut health is a hot topic, and for good reason. 

Having a healthy gut plays a huge part in our overall health, including our mental health, digestion, and immunity. Our gut microbiome (or gut flora) is made up of trillions of microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi. There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome: each of them plays a different role in your body, and most are extremely important for your health.

Gut health
Multiple foods have multiple health benefits.

These microbes are now recognised as an extra organ within our body, and astonishingly, they weigh roughly the same as your brain (1-2kg).

So what’s the key to a healthy gut and therefore good overall health? In short: food diversity, and more specifically, plant-based food diversity. Plants contain different types of prebiotics, which are the types of dietary fibre that feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. The guidance is to aim for 30 different plants a week. This may sound intimidating, but as someone who has been aiming for this for the last couple of months, I promise it’s very achievable. 

Focus on variety

Focus on a variety of wholegrains, beans and pulses as your main carbohydrate sources. Examples include brown rice, quinoa, oats, chickpeas, lentils, and different types of beans. 

Eat the rainbow

Aim to eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs across the week, rather than repeating a few staples. If you are worried about buying too much to get through before it goes off, buy a mixture of fresh and frozen fruit and veg, i.e frozen mixed berries, mango, pineapple, peas, edamame (soya) beans. 

Diversity
Eating a diverse range of plants supports a healthy gut. 

Plant-based

Choose plant-based recipes, as they typically mean lots of plants in one dish. There are so many amazing cookbooks and resources out there. Some of my favourites include Rebel Recipes, Bosh! and Deliciously Ella

Tracking your food

Find a way of tracking your weekly plant-based food count. I started by making a list on my phone in the notes section, but then Deliciously Ella added a plant counter to her recipe app. It’s 99p a month, so well worth it as you get access to a huge number of recipes, too. And if you make one of her recipes, you can click ‘I’ve eaten this recipe’ and it will automatically add all the ingredients to your tracker. 

Nuts and seeds

Go wild for nuts and seeds. Top your porridge with nut butters; sprinkle toasted pine nuts over salads; add crunchy cashews to your curries; add a tablespoon of mixed seeds to your smoothies. 

This article was initially published in issue 6 of Wicked Leeks magazine. You can read the full magazine for free on Issuu by clicking here
 

    Comments

    Wicked Leeks is out now

    Cover star, Jyoti Fernandes, tells of the small producers standing up for their rights, while elsewhere we explore climate-friendly eating and how to eat seasonal in spring.

    Read more

    Ecological farming can feed UK if diets change

    New report outlines how diets can support an ecological farming system in the UK to cut carbon, restore nature and preserve farming livelihoods.

    Read now
    veg box

    Ethical organic veg. Delivered.

    Set up by Guy Singh-Watson, Riverford now delivers across the country with a full range of fresh produce, meat, dairy and more.

    Shop now
    Spread the word

    The twin crises of climate change and biodiversity losses will be the defining stories of our future, but it is not too late to change direction. 

    Here at Wicked Leeks, our mission is to help inform and inspire positive change. Our journalism is free to all because of this, but we want to reach as many people as possible who share our desire for a better world. We know our readers are some of the biggest advocates of sustainable living, and you can help us grow this movement by sharing this article widely, with your friends and on social media. Now is the time to act.