“We know a higher level of diversity in your gut bacteria, the healthier your gut microbiome,” Brad explained. “Given that your gut bacteria are influenced by what you eat, it’s important to eat a diverse range of fresh, whole foods mainly from plant sources.
“Your gut breaks down the food you eat and absorbs the nutrients your body needs to function. Eat 30 different vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains each week, and you get a diverse range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
“A simple hack here is to buy a few ingredients you didn’t eat the week prior,” he said. “People often consume the same or similar products week after week by replacing what was in their fridge when it runs out. Instead, look for what’s in season, even if you’ve never cooked with it before. Your gut will thank you.”
Daily fermented foods
Brad recommends including fermented foods in your daily routine to increase the diversity of your microbiome.
“Fermented foods include kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut. In these foods, bacteria and yeast have broken down the sugars, and this fermentation allows your gut to absorb the nutrients better,” Brad said.
“You want the fermented food to have live microorganisms when you consume them so that they can contribute to your gut diversity. Some food preparation processing, like baking or preservation, can kill live microbes. Remember to check if the product contains ‘live cultures’ or learn how to make fermented foods at home.”
Using food as medicine
As a clinical nutritionist, Brad lives the philosophy ‘food as medicine’ or the use of diet to improve health.
“One example of a common ingredient that can feed up the good bugs in your gut is green banana flour, available from supermarkets and health stores,” Brad said.
“Green banana flour is a resistant starch – a gut-friendly type of fibre that works as a prebiotic. One teaspoon of this starch in your daily smoothie or cold drink will nurture your gut.
“Ultimately, the best way to boost your gut health is to work with a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to develop a diet tailored to your needs,” Brad said. “If you have consistently followed all three ways above and haven’t experienced any improvements, please see a practitioner who does gut microbiome testing to get a comprehensive picture of your gut health.”
Interested in gut health?
Read Dr Brad Leech's previous article about choosing the right supplement for optimal gut health.