If there is one thing that continues to stump Aussies, it’s gut health. Shockingly, half the nation experiences unpleasant symptoms of an unhealthy gut, such as bloating, gas and constipation1.

Still, unpleasant, and often embarrassing symptoms are only a small piece of the gut health puzzle. Gut health can impact everything from metabolism, body weight, immune regulation, brain function and mood explains accredited practicing dietitian Jaime Rose Chambers.

It can be tricky to identify the tell-tale signs you are not taking good care of your gut, but Jaime says to look out for digestive issues such as reflux, indigestion and bloating, abdominal pain or cramping, gurgly stomach and changes to bowel habits such as constipation and/or diarrhoea.

“A healthy gut is so important as it is linked with many functions of the body, including healthy digestion, bowel function and absorption of nutrients from our food. It also forms a barrier to help your body be more resilient and able to protect against unwanted bugs.

“Gut health and immunity are closely linked, because a healthy microbiome with a diverse range of beneficial bacteria contributes to a healthy immune system. Gut health plays an important role in regulating your immune system so that it responds to injury or infection and does not attack healthy body tissue, so it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re implementing simple things every day like choosing foods that support gut health” she says.

Here, Chambers explains the five simple steps to help you get your gut health on track at home.

  1. Include probiotic-rich foods into your diet every day

When choosing foods to support gut health, I suggest eating a combination of probiotic kefir yoghurt, such as Vaalia’s new range, as well as a variety of fermented foods every day. A simple muesli, stirred through with muesli and topped with yoghurt is a personal favourite breakfast of mine and a really easy way to get probiotics into your diet.

You can find out whether foods contain probiotics by looking at the nutritional information panel found on the back of products like Vaalia Kefir and probiotic yoghurts. You’re looking for around 1 billion CFU (colony forming units) per 100g.

  1. Eat plenty of plants

Aim for at least 30 different plant foods per week. This includes everything from fruits and vegetables to wholegrains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and lentils.

  1. Manage your stress

Probiotics can have benefits for mental wellbeing, including improving resilience to stressful episodes. Meditation and yoga are the most common activities but anything you find meditative such as running, swimming, reading, cooking or even having a bath works.

  1. Get adequate sleep

Many people don’t realise it, but sleep and gut health are closely tied. Digestive health can play a role in how well you sleep, which in turn can affect how well your digestive system functions. It’s important to keep to a regular routine including going to sleep and waking up at a similar time each day and eating at the same time as much as possible. After all, our bodies like predictability and consistency.

  1. Drink plenty of fluids

Something that’s always easier said than done! To put it simply, water and other liquids help break down food so that your body can absorb the nutrients, regulate bowel movements, and prevent constipation.