Lifestyle18 March 2019

Eating and activity to help improve your gut health


Your gut is amazingly responsive to both good and bad influences. Fortunately, many good influences can help you strengthen your gut.


Scientists are now studying the link between exercise and a healthy gut. One of the early studies compared the gut health of the national rugby team of Ireland with the gut health of a group of sedentary men. Researchers found that the athletes had a far more diverse microbiome than the sedentary men did (microbial diversity is highly desirable in gut health).1


The gut microbiome is a crucial player in how often and how seriously we’re affected by a range of both acute and chronic conditions. Sleep is one of many behaviours that build and helps support a balanced and diverse gut microbiome. Getting adequate sleep not only assists with diversifying our gut health, it also helps reduce stress, which may help prevent many gastrointestinal disorders.2

Choose foods that your gut loves

A high-fat diet can prevent good gut bacteria from flourishing. Saturated fats may increase the number of inflammatory gut microbes. Research suggests that there’s a correlation between a high fat, low-fibre diet and colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in the world.3

Incorporate some or all of the eight ‘super foods’ that scientists believe actually super-charge the gut microbiome. These are:4

1. Asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and onions

2. Bananas

3. Beans

4. Blueberries

5. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables

6. Fermented plant foods

7. Polenta

8. Probiotics

Read more about the 8 Superfoods.


1 Gut microbiota, ‘Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity,’ June 2014.

2 European Journal of Neuroscience, ‘Novel biochemical manipulation of brain serotonin reveals a role of serotonin in the circadian rhythm of sleep–wake cycles,’ May 2012.

3 Imperial College London, ‘Diet swap has dramatic effects on colon cancer risk for Americans and Africans’, April 2015.

4 The Physicians Committee, ‘Seven Foods to Supercharge Your Gut Bacteria,’ September 2014.

5 Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, ‘Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation,’ January 2013.

© MetLife Insurance Limited (MetLife) 2017. While care has been taken in preparing this material, MetLife does not warrant or represent that the information, opinions or conclusions contained in this information are accurate. The information provided is general information only is current as at the time of production. It has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. MetLife recommends that you obtain independent and specific advice from appropriate professionals before implementing a financial strategy, including reading any relevant product disclosure statements and/or terms and conditions.

This article has been provided by MetLife Insurance limited. Tasplan Super and MetLife aren't agents or representatives of one another.

This article has been republished with permission from the author.

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