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Fibre, Gut Health & Immunity – what’s the connection?

Fibre, Gut Health & Immunity – what’s the connection?

By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

Understandably our immunity and ability to fight infections is currently top of mind. There is a lot of misinformation, over simplification and exaggerated claims around which should be ignored or treated cautiously (check out official information is you’re confused) but happily there is also robust, evidence based science too. This science can be translated into practical ways to help to you look after your health including supporting your immune system.

The human immune system is complex involving cells, tissues and organs that work together to fight off invaders. Around 70% of your immune cells are located within your digestive system (gut). Our gut wall acts as a physical barrier to keep out unwanted invaders and the gut microbiota, the trillions of microbes found in the digestive system (mostly in the large intestine), supports, protects and communicates with the immune system helping it to do its job properly.

Research has shown alterations of these gut microbial communities can lead to immune impairment with associated health consequences. Research into the link between immune health and gut health is still in its early stages trying to answer the question whether disease affects the gut microbiota or the other way round or both.

The good news is that you are able to influence your gut microbiota by the way you treat it which in turn helps to look after your digestive and immune health.  Eating a balanced and varied diet as part of a healthy lifestyle including getting enough quality sleep can encourage a thriving gut microbiota.

Enjoying a wide range of healthy foods is the best way to get all the nutrients that are important for your body and keeping healthy. Fibre is of particular importance as it not only helps keep your digestion healthy but your gut microbiota use fibre as fuel. Fibre is found in plant-based foods including beans, lentils, wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Choosing enough and a variety of these foods regularly is a simple way to make a healthy choice.

Replace half or all of the mince in a recipe such as shepherd’s pie or Bolognese with lentils in the recipes below:

Merchant Gourmet Lentil Bolognese, lentils, Puy lentils, lentil bolognese, veggie mince, lentil mince, vegetarian recipes, vegan recipes

Stir in wholegrains such as a pack of Glorious Grains into vegetable soup to add taste and bite to your lunch. Alternatively add a pack of ready-cooked lentils for a fibre and protein boost.

Try one of these granola recipes and add to live bio yogurt:

Merchant Gourmet Granola, granola recipe, wholegrain recipe, breakfast recipe, quinoa recipe, freekeh recipe, chestnut recipe, healthy breakfast, wholegrain breakfast

In a rush? Use one of the flavoursome wholegrains combos as a base for a tasty meal – add salmon or prawns or cooked chicken or nuts, chopped peppers and a couple of handfuls of washed salad leaves (or a couple of cups of cooked frozen veg) and there’s your dinner. Bon appetit!

If you’re increasing your fibre intake, build up gradually by a portion a day per week, keep hydrated and keep motivated by trying some of our delicious recipes to make your fibre feast tasty and enjoyable.

 

By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

Sian Porter Merchant Gourmet Nutritionist, merchant Gourmet, Nutritionist