Gut health is a popular topic, but it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction.
Many people self-diagnose themselves with food intolerances, such as gluten and dairy, but the actual percentage of people who truly suffer from these is very low. Unless you have a genuine allergy or autoimmune condition like coeliac disease, which only affects 1% of the population, there is no need to restrict these foods from your diet. In fact, consuming gluten-containing grains can provide additional sources of fiber, and fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir and cheese can have a positive impact on gut health. Restricting these foods can actually do more harm than good to your gut.
Another popular trend that can be harmful to gut health is the keto or low-carbohydrate diets. These diets are often lacking in fiber, which is essential for gut microbes to thrive. Therefore, it’s important to flip the traditional view of what it means to have a healthy diet and healthy gut, and instead focus on what can be added to the diet, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and seeds, to cultivate a more diverse and healthier gut.
It’s also important to be cautious of shop-bought fermented foods like kombucha, as they can often be heavily filtered and contain a lot of sugar. To ensure authenticity, look for sediment in the bottle, and go slowly and gently with ferments, consuming them in small amounts like a condiment.
Here we debunk five common myths about gut health:
- Cutting out foods is good for your gut – In fact, the most supportive diet for gut health is one that is as inclusive and diverse as possible, especially when it comes to plant-foods. Restricting foods like gluten and dairy, unless you have a genuine allergy or condition, can do more harm than good.
- Probiotics are a gut health panacea – While some probiotics may be beneficial, the idea that any one probiotic can solve all gut health issues is not true. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir, are naturally high in beneficial bacteria and yeasts.
- Gut health is only about what you eat – While food plays a role in gut health, other factors like stress, sleep, exercise, medication, and birth method also have an impact.
- Bowel movements are the only indicator of gut health – While regular bowel movements are important, they are not the only indicator of gut health. Other signs to pay attention to include energy levels, skin health, and overall well-being.
- Detox treatments are necessary for gut health – Detox treatments are not necessary for gut health and can even be harmful. A healthy diet, exercise, and stress management can all support gut health without the need for invasive treatments.
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