Registered nutritionist Emily English shares her insight on how to support gut health, the foods to fuel it – and the ones to avoid.
A few weeks ago, I attended a breakfast event organised by Remedy to celebrate the launch of their latest flavour, Remedy Kombucha Orange Squeeze. We enjoyed some delicious food as well as a very interesting Q&A on gut health with registered nutritionist Emily English.
There’s a growing recognition of the pivotal role that gut health plays in our overall health and well-being. The intricate connection between the gut and various aspects of our physical and mental health is a fascinating subject and I am always keen to learn more.
I love fermented foods and have been an avid drinker of kombucha for years even venturing into making my own.
When it comes to store-bought kombucha, Remedy is one of my favourite brands. It was started by Sarah and Emmet Condon on their kitchen counter in Melbourne, Australia. Using both black and green tea, their drinks are made the old-school way: in small batches, long-aged brewed.
Because Remedy’s kombucha is brewed for over 30 days, all the sugar that is needed for the fermentation process gets absorbed resulting in a drink that is naturally free from sugar and filled with the nutritional goodness of live cultures, organic acids and tea polyphenols.
Remedy Kombucha Orange Squeeze is the latest addition to Remedy’s extensive range of kombucha which includes some delicious flavours such as Wild Berry, Raspberry Lemonade, Mango Passion, Peach and so on.
Kombucha Orange Squeeze has a tangy citrus zing perfectly balanced with the sweetness of oranges. Reminiscent of orange soda, but without the sugar, it is fizzy and refreshing and is bursting with gut-loving bacteria.
Why is it important to support gut health
The gut is the largest immune organ in the body and is crucial to keeping us healthy. Sharing her insights on this fascinating topic, Emily English explained:
“Our gut is responsible for absorbing all the lovely nutrients from our food, while our gut microbiome is also responsible for converting a lot of those lovely fibres and antioxidants into beneficial health compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids and secondary metabolites, which have really great anti-inflammatory and gut-supporting effects.
“It’s also responsible for supporting our immune system; 70% of our immune system is housed within the gut and it plays a key role in identifying friend from foe, allowing the things that will benefit us to come in, whilst keeping out the things that will make us poorly. Having such proximity to our absorption site, it’s important that we keep a strong and balanced immune system within our gut, which is why looking after our gut health and maintaining a good, healthy microbiome is so important for our immunity. It’s when this balance is tipped that we often see a rise in issues such as auto-immune conditions, and skin conditions.
“The gut-brain axis is also key; we often refer to our gut as our ‘second brain’ and this is because there is a two-way communication between the two. Our gut produces a whole host of neurotransmitters too, such as our serotonin or ‘feel-good hormone’, 95% of which is produced within the gut. The best example of how closely the two are linked is that, when we’re feeling nervous or anxious, this can often result in the ‘nervous poo’, which shows how our emotions and feelings directly influence the mobility of our gut itself.”
Emily shares her top tips on how to support your gut health, the foods to fuel it – and the ones to avoid.
1. Diversify and Eat for Two
I see so many people who are cutting out food groups, or who feel like they can’t eat certain foods, but you should always think about adding, rather than taking away. The biggest tip I give my clients is to think about eating for two at every single meal. Whenever I’m preparing my breakfast pots or my morning oats, I always consider what else I can add that is going to feed my microbiome. You can focus on the smallest additions, such as adding some seeds, sprinkling on some herbs, or cooking with good extra virgin olive oil – all these things will help to support your microbiome.
2. Consider Sensitivities versus Allergies
There is a difference between food allergies, which you can test for, and food sensitivities, which you can’t, with allergies also typically resulting in a reaction that you can see or feel, such as hives, or itchiness. With sensitivities, I always say that it’s not how the food is making you respond, it’s how your gut is responding to the food; there can be a whole host of reasons why you have developed a sensitivity to a certain type of food and it’s really important to look at supporting the foundation of the gut first before you cut out a whole group of foods that you feel like you can’t eat.
3. Weave in Ferments
We see that people who consume a good amount of ferments within their diet have better microbiome diversity and overall gut health, and they are really easy to incorporate into your diet. It can be as simple as adding a little serving of sauerkraut or kimchi into a main course, including kefir in your yoghurt bowl or drinking kombucha with your meal. My go-to is Remedy Kombucha, which uses a combination of black and green tea which are packed full of antioxidants and polyphenols, and which is completely free of sugar, meaning that I can have it daily with my lunch and I’m not going to be damaging my gut with excessive sugar intake.
4. Embrace Carbs, Chocolate and Wine!
Good, wholegrain carbs are a simple change to consider when choosing products such as rice, whole grains and bread. Carbs contain beta-glucans which are really heart-healthy and help feed your microbiome; they also contain fibre which acts as a kind of ‘sweeper’. If you want to imagine them in your gut, sweeping everything through and helping your body’s natural detox methods. Fibre isn’t the only thing that feeds our gut – polyphenols and antioxidants do too, and we tend to find these in good dark chocolate and red wine; though this should still only make up a small part of your overall diet!
5. Choose wisely when indulging in sugary snacks
Particularly in the context of a diet that lacks diversity, high sugar can feed the bad bacteria in our gut and promote inflammation. Reaching for a sugar hit on an empty stomach and when you reach that 4:30 pm slump often results in fatigue, brain fog, and feeling really tired when that sugar crash hits. If you do have sugar, think about when and what you’re consuming it with. If you partner your sugar with a meal containing protein and fibre, you tend to see a much lower sugar spike, while the meal will nourish our good bacteria. So having a nice chocolate bar after a meal is a much better time to have it, rather than eating it on an empty stomach as a quick fix for a slump in energy.
6. Drink Alcohol with Caution
A good, strong gut lining creates a barrier that prevents inflammation, but alcohol can irritate this. If you do over-indulge, try to think about what you can do to support and rebalance that gut – drinking a Remedy Kombucha, adding some kimchi to your breakfast or some rye to your eggs is a really good way to restore and replenish good bacteria.
7. Sleep, destress and move
How we live our life is just as important for our gut health as what we eat.
To find out more about Remedy Kombucha, visit Remedydrinks.co.uk
All Remedy Kombucha is certified vegan, gluten-free, fructose-free, paleo-friendly and HALAL certified.