By Rebecca Miller
Bec Miller (Founder of Health with Bec) is a Clinical Nutritionist, specialising in weight loss and gut health. Her love of nutrition, together with her own healing journey spurs her on a mission to help others, with the most up to date and evidence-based information. Rebecca specialises in making custom meal plans and has now worked one on one with over 600 women from around Australia. She has also released three ebooks, which have collectively helped nearly 2000 women worldwide, her most recent ebook being her Low Carb Winter Warmers recipe eBook.
Instagram @ health_with_bec
5 simple swaps or hacks to make your meals more gut-friendly
Gut health… it’s certainly being talked more and more about lately, and for good reason! It is so important to have a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut (and by that I mean intestines) and have a large, diverse range of the beneficial strains of bacteria too.
Why? Optimal gut health has been linked to obesity, inflammation, energy levels, depression, anxiety, and even sleep.
So, how do we optimize our gut health? In short, foods that optimise the number of good bacteria are fermented foods and whole foods that are rich in fibre such as vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. You also want to avoid foods that promote the growth of harmful bacteria and/or kill off your good bacteria. The most dangerous one is sugar! A diet high in sugar can stimulate the growth of unhealthy bacteria, which may contribute to weight gain and other chronic health diseases.
As well as sugar, avoiding artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and saccharin is also important. And, studies have found that foods containing too many saturated fats may also contribute to the growth of disease-causing bacteria, so you want to avoid them and aim for fats such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado and nuts.
Here are 5 super simple tips and hacks to easily do what I’ve just spoken about to optimise your gut health!
(1) Limit all added sugars as much as you can. For women, stay under 24g / day and for men, under 36g, but the less the better! It’s so easy to do this if you just avoid processed, packaged foods as much as possible! Avoiding these foods will also very likely cut your intake of saturated fats down too!
Like sweets? Swap your biscuits, cakes or puddings to homemade ones that are sweetened with stevia, xylitol or erythritol instead and made with low GI flours or ground nuts! There are some great pancake and pudding recipes on my website!
(2) Instead of cooking with butter, try to use olive, flaxseed or avocado oil instead! This will help to reduce your intake of saturated fats. Also, swap butter in your sandwiches or on your toast to avocado or hummus.
(3) Make your dressings, marinate your meat and make your sauces yourself! I know it’s convenient to buy these things, but 9 times out of 10, they are loaded with sugar, harmful preservatives (which also harm the gut) and saturated fats. If you make them yourself, you can see exactly what’s going into them and it can be so quick and easy. Make a jar of dressing for your salads at the beginning of the week, and have the right pantry staples at home all the time to make marinades and sauces easily and quickly. For example, I always have olive oil, garlic, herbs, mustard, vinegar, tamari, ginger, stevia and cans of tomatoes stocked.
(4) Love your soft drinks or diet soft drinks? Swap them to soda water and infuse them yourself with chopped fruit! I absolutely love adding frozen berries and fresh lime to soda water. Or, look for ones on the shelves that have no added preservatives or sugar and are instead sweetened with stevia, xylitol or erythritol.
(5) Find ways to sneak fermented foods into your day. Keep a jar of sauerkraut or kimchi in your fridge at all times and add it to the salads you make for lunch or as a side with your dinner (that’s full of a wide array of vegetables of course).
Gosh, I could go on! But these 5 tips and hacks certainly are some of the most important! Remember, a healthier gut means a healthier mind and waistline and you’ll be doing wonders for every other aspect of your health too if you continue to focus on optimizing the health of yours.