One of Australia’s most trusted health and wellbeing experts says we should be focusing on improving our gut health to boost immunity this winter.
Dr Joanna McMillan, renowned nutrition scientist and accredited practicing dietitian, believes gut health is far from a passing health fad, with scientific research showing there is a proven link between our immune and gastro intestinal system (1, 2, 3, 4).
“Close to 70 per cent of your immune system is actually housed in your gastrointestinal tract, so it’s important to keep it in good shape,” Dr Jo explains.
So if you’re looking for ways you can keep happy and healthy throughout the cooler months, here are Dr Joanna McMillan’s top tips for looking after gut health and boosting Winter immunity.
1. Make sure you’re getting enough probiotics
According to Dr Jo, the simplest way to improve gut health is to increase the intake of probiotics. Probiotics are essential in restoring the balance of ‘good bacteria’ in the intestines, helping our bodies to maintain a healthy gut, and as Dr Jo explains, they “are especially valuable for boosting immune function during winter as they have been shown to reduce the number and severity of respiratory infections.” Probiotics should be taken everyday for maximum benefit and it’s easy to get your daily dose from a supplement, or tasty fermented foods and drinks such as Kombucha.
In addition to the naturally occurring live cultures, every bottle of MOJO Kombucha is also activated with 1 billion colony forming units of the probiotic strain, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086. Cheers to good guts!
2. Limit processed food and eat more fibre
It’s no surprise that Dr Jo recommends eating whole, minimally processed foods packed with fibre. The prebiotics found in fibre fuel the growth of good bugs in your gut, resulting in a healthier immune system. Try not to overdo it with the processed and fried foods as these may slow down the digestive process, and encourage the wrong type of bacteria and yeast to grow in our gut. It’s all about finding the right balance!
3. Get enough sleep
There’s a link between sleep and immunity, and it’s only just being recognised for its importance. If you’re sleeping poorly or not getting enough sleep, you’re more likely to snack on sugary foods throughout the day to boost your energy levels, and then skip exercise due to tiredness. Dr Jo says most adults need seven to eight hours a night.
4. Limit alcohol
Alcohol can irritate your digestive system by causing inflammation, so if you’re experiencing problems with your gut, it’s best to limit your intake or avoid it. If you do choose to enjoy alcohol, be sure you do so in moderation. The Australian guidelines recommend drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day for healthy men and women. Why not try occasionally swapping out booze with ‘booch for a tasty, fermented drink without the alcohol content?
5. Stay hydrated
When the weather is cooler, we naturally tend to drink less water. But not staying adequately hydrated can slow down your digestive system, resulting in harder stools that are more difficult to pass. According to Dr Jo, there’s an easy way to tell whether you’re drinking enough – your urine should remain a light straw colour, all day long. So in addition to Kombucha, don’t forget to keep sipping on H20!
Cheers to your health!