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Unlocking Gut Health: Expert Insights and Practical Tips

person in shorts and vest holds vegetables over stomach

UK search interest in gut health has seen a massive 450% increase in the last five years, affirming the strong demand from consumers looking to take their gut health seriously.

Kim Plaza, senior technical advisor at Bio-Kult, the UK’s #1 digestive health supplement brand, answers Britain’s ‘most searched’ queries and explains how looking after your gut can make life more manageable.

  • With searches spiking in Spring each year, there are currently 33,000 monthly Google searches within the UK around ‘gut health’, and according to YouGov, an increasing number of Brits are regularly taking vitamins and dietary supplements compared to five years ago.
  • Supporting this, search volumes have grown by 450% in the last five years, with a monthly increase of 27,000 when comparing current data to the same period in 2019 (6,000 versus 33,000).
  • Interest in ‘gut health’ on Pinterest also increased by 80% in January 2024 compared to the month prior.

How do I fix my gut health?

Perhaps unsurprisingly the most searched-for query, to answer this question, it’s important to first understand the composition of your gut microbiome which is home to over 100 trillion microorganisms.

Kim explains that while there is no one-fits-all fix, we can start to see improvements to gut and overall health and wellness by proactively maintaining the balance of natural bacteria in our gut, “Generally speaking, we may be able to support the gut microbiome through a range of beneficial species of bacteria.

Essentially, different species will produce different acids and antimicrobial compounds that may be helpful against the less beneficial species which are present in the gut.

It is thought that each bacteria species could have characteristics which are useful for particular mechanisms, such as fermenting fibre in the gut, or producing antimicrobial peptides.”

What heals the gut the fastest?

There is no ‘quick win’ when it comes to gut health, many aspects of daily life such as what we consume, how we sleep and how much exercise we get are thought to impact our gut microbiota, so building a regular gut-friendly routine is always recommended.

“For instance, eating a wide variety of healthy plant-based foods rich in fibre will provide an assortment of different nutrients, help support digestive function and also provide diverse food sources for the different types of friendly gut bacteria (who, much like humans, all have different preferences for what they like to eat)”, Kim notes. 

“Alongside dietary fibre, taking a live multi-strain bacteria supplement daily could also help to gradually increase levels of friendly bacteria in your gut.

While single-strain live bacteria supplements are beneficial to health, multi-strain supplements might be more helpful, due to the synergistic and additive effects among the individual strains”.

How do I detox my gut?

Any sort of body cleanse should start with the gut as our digestive tract is the first line of defence against toxins and harmful bacteria and viruses. Kim suggests four elements for a gut detox:

  • Increase the levels of water and fibre you are consuming – by drinking 4 pints of filtered water, eating at least seven portions of vegetables and adding in beans and lentils each day will help to rid the body of toxins.
  • Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir in your diet as these contain high levels of beneficial bacteria to support the gut flora balance, help to keep the lining of the gut healthy and improve metabolism.
  • Reduce toxins by eating more antioxidant foods, such as a rainbow of different coloured fruits and vegetables. Swap fruits, vegetables, meats and fish to organic where possible.
  • Eliminate stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine and sugar when cleansing the gut, as these can all cause inflammation. Try swapping your caffeine fix for herbal teas such as fennel or camomile.

What is the best supplement for gut health?

Each individual has a unique microbiome and the type of supplement you may benefit from can depend on what you are hoping to achieve by improving your gut health.

Looking after your gut helps to build resilience when it comes to whole body health which is why there are various supplements available which can more precisely target specific concerns such as the immune system, mental health and intimate health.

“For instance, if you are hoping to keep illnesses at bay, supplements containing zinc, magnesium, vitamins A, C and D, polyphenols (such as elderberry) and live bacteria supplements, can all help to support both the gut and the immune system”, advises Kim.

“In general, taking a multi-strain live bacteria supplement such as Bio-Kult Everyday (£10.48 for 30 capsules) will target the digestive system with gut-friendly bacteria strains to complement your existing gut flora, and is a good choice to make life a little more digestible.

With the level of supplements on the market, you may wish to have a chat with a registered nutrition practitioner for personalised advice.”

What foods to avoid to fix your gut?

“The increase of UPFs (ultra-processed foods) in our diet has had a significant impact on digestive health.

For example, emulsifiers are commonly used in many food products, they bind fats to water and act like a detergent, scrubbing out the healthy mucus layer in our gut and fostering the growth of unfriendly bacteria.

Diets based on refined foods high in fat and sugar and low in fibre have also been shown to cause dysbiosis (an imbalance of bacteria) in the gut and negatively impact the immune system”, Kim explains, advising key foods to avoid when healing your gut:

  • Keep ‘slimming’ products to a minimum. They tend to have very long ingredient lists, are low in beneficial fats and often contain sweeteners.
  • Avoid shop-bought bread; instead, try to buy bread from a quality bakery. Sourdough is particularly good as it only contains 2-3 ingredients and takes some chewing, which is beneficial for bone growth in the jaw and the release of appetite-related hormones, stopping you from overeating.
  • Instead of buying pre-bottled sauces and condiments, make your own. Pre-bottled varieties such as for pasta or stir-fry tend to be particularly high in sugar, salt and additives.

Visit Bio-Kult to learn more about the link between your gut health and whole body health.