Gut-related disorders are on the rise—between 30 and 50 per cent of North Americans experience some form of gastrointestinal symptoms on a regular basis.

How do I keep my tummy happy?

Q: What are some of the top foods to consume to maintain a healthy gut?

A: You should get all of the nutrition that your body needs by eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates, as per Canada’s Food Guide. In addition, we also need vitamins and minerals. Fortified milk, cereals, flours and, more importantly, fruits and vegetables have the nutrients we need for a healthy gut and body. It is also important to get enough fibre—the un-digestible part of food that’s present in fruits, veggies and cereals—to maintain healthy gut flora and gut health.

Q: I’ve heard a lot about the importance of probiotics and micronutrients. What are they and should they be in our diet?

A: Probiotics are important, but we are still striving to understand the full impact that they have on the body. When we talk about micronutrients, we are often referring to vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K and folic acid are the most common vitamins we refer to, and they all act on our body’s myriad metabolic processes to keep our tissues healthy. That is why fruits and vegetables are important, because they have these nutrients. Some of these vitamins—A and D in particular—are known to play significant roles in our gut function.

There is a very complex ecological system in our guts, with many resident microorganisms playing an integral role in our health. Because micronutrients and probiotics can impact these microorganisms, they can also impact our health. Fermented products used throughout the world—such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, kombucha and kimchi—are considered to be good sources of probiotics, or healthy bacteria.

Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Baljinder Salh explains why diet is the most important factor to maintain a healthy gut and body.

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