At this time of year, many of us are trying to move away from the rich and heavy foods of the festive period and eat things that are better for us. But what about the centre of the digestive action, our gut? Here are some easy ways to give your gut a boost and enhance your overall well-being,

1. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods
For a number of reasons, including taking antibiotics or having a fibre-poor diet, the beneficial bacteria in your gut can become unbalanced and do fewer of the good things, such as creating vitamins and other essential nutrients as well as allowing us to digest a wide range of foods.

To boost the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, you can take probiotic-enriched foods or supplements. There is research that suggests probiotics taken this way can support a healthy microbiome in the gut and may prevent inflammation and other gut problems. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut (and other fermented vegetables), kefir and some live yogurts are sources of probiotics.

Kimchi

2. Eat more fibre
Probiotic bacteria feed on otherwise indigestible carbohydrates/plant fibres often called prebiotics. Having enough of these foods in your diet – which includes ordinary things like asparagus, bananas, garlic and onions and wholegrains – encourages beneficial bacteria to multiply.

asparagus

3. Eat less sugar and sweeteners
Eating a lot of sugar or may cause an imbalance of gut microbes. Research has suggested that the standard Western diet, high in sugar and fat, negatively affects the gut microbiome, with many implications for health elsewhere in the body. There is also some evidence that using the artificial sweetener, aspartame, increases the number of bacterial strains that are linked with metabolic disease, which in turn is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.