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UNDERSTANDING THE INDIVIDUAL GUT MICROBIOTA, THE FUTURE OF PERSONALISED NUTRITION?

Registered Nutritional Therapists are the best equipped health professionals to answer the question: What should I eat for better health? But with my clinical experience, I know that not everyone responds the same way to the same dietary programme, why? because certain foods and dietary patterns actually have differing effects on the gut microbiota between individuals.

Research is showing that concrete personalised dietary recommendations could be developed more easily if scientists took into account two things about their study participants: (1) their dietary habits, and (2) their gut microbiota composition and/or function.

This means that significant changes can be made to the way an individual’s gut functions by altering not only the diet but also the microbial environment in the gut.

This may help people with chronic diseases linked to the microbiome (such as diabetes or autoimmune diseases) and people with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which I specialise in.

For those of you who have already worked with me, you know how I use functional testing in the form of comprehensive stool testing often so I can help my clients to feel better. In my practice, this is a very important piece of the jigsaw. By analysing the gut ecology, I have been able to get a snapshot of both the health of the body and the complex processes taking place in the gut of my clients.

This is exciting because the gut microbes can be modified with prebiotics,  probiotics, with high fibre diets, with a Mediterranean diet rich in polyphenols and these interventions can have a profound effect on people’s health as I have seen in my own clinic.

Prebiotic fibre, as an example, is used by the body to feed “good bacteria” in the digestive system. The consumption of prebiotic fibres can result in higher levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the gut. These bacteria are required for a healthy digestive system to function effectively.

The definition of healthy eating is a balanced diet. It is not about kale and coconut oil but about eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. However, it can be difficult to ensure you are getting a sufficient amount of fibre, which is key for a healthy digestive system. This is where I come in with my knowledge and my useful tips to support you create a wonderful gut ecology that will help you feel your best!

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