jo travers love your gut dietician

Dietitian Jo Travers shares her top tips for looking after your gut health

From diet changes to stress management, learn how to look after your gut health with this expert advice from a dietician.

Taking the time to look after your gut health is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing. Get started today with these diet and lifestyle tips from dietitian Jo Travers, for Love Your Gut.

1. Eat the rainbow

Eat lots of plant-based foods! This can include fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, herbs and spices. These provide food for the helpful bacteria in the gut, so they can produce beneficial compounds for our cells. The greater the variety of plant foods you eat, the greater the variety of good bacteria your gut can support.

2. Get back to nature

Being in nature has many benefits for our health and a lot of those benefits start with our gut. All things have their own microbiome and when we come into contact with these different microbiomes it helps our own overall health and wellbeing. Plants, soil, animals and open spaces all have beneficial bacteria so try to walk through a park or get in the garden to boost your own microbiome.

3. Check your stress levels

Stress, whether physical or psychological, triggers a chain reaction in the body, including the production of the stress hormone called cortisol. This may disrupt the communication pathways between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Such disruptions can alter blood flow and secretions in the gut, which could create favourable conditions for harmful bacteria and inhibit the growth of some helpful bacteria.

While we aren’t always able to control what happens in our lives, we can control how we respond to it. Stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness make a huge difference to how we experience and respond to stress and in turn, can make our gut microbiome more resilient.

4. Boost your sleep quality

Some people find it difficult to sleep but establishing a good routine where we allow ourselves enough time (7-9hrs) in bed is a start. Many of us are guilty of staying up too late because we want to and spend the next day tired. The most helpful gut bacteria thrives in a well-rested body so try to get into good sleep habits!

5. Get active

Exercise is always recommended for overall health – and gut health is no exception! It doesn’t have to be vigorous activity, even a gentle walk is good for stimulating muscles in the gut and keeping things moving.

The importance of looking after your gut health

The bacteria in the gut do a lot of jobs. Three important ones are training our immune systems, communicating with the brain and producing beneficial compounds called postbiotics. The intricate connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis, plays a pivotal role in our overall wellbeing.

The bacteria in our guts are constantly interacting with the immune system, effectively helping differentiate between good and bad foreign substances in the gut. Without a healthy microbiome, we may be more prone to infection or inflammation. Similarly, gut bacteria communicates with cognitive and emotional centres in the brain. An unhealthy gut can contribute to low mood, and this communication is a two-way pathway, meaning that mental stress can lead to poor gut health, creating a potential vicious circle.

We have a symbiotic relationship with the bacteria that lives in us: we feed them on fibre from the food we eat and in return they digest things our own systems can’t, releasing nutrients and making things that would otherwise be unavailable. These postbiotics act on our cells in our bodies, making them more efficient.

Caring for your gut as you age

Gut health is important at every stage of life. From the time you’re a baby to when you’re grown up, so keeping your gut microbiome happy and healthy is crucial for overall wellbeing. Eating a diet with lots of fibre and fermented foods helps create a good environment for the good bacteria to thrive. Alongside that, getting good sleep, managing stress, and staying active are also big players in keeping your gut in top-notch shape. Taking care of your gut sets the stage for living your best life, no matter your age.

Small steps to better gut health

If you want to improve your gut health, start with this one simple change: diversify your diet. Try swapping out some of the meat in your recipe for plant proteins like lentils or add some chickpeas and a handful of nuts or seeds to your salad. Look to add in some fermented foods – tempeh, kimchi and fermented milk drinks and remember you don’t have to eat masses of these foods to make a difference to your gut health.

For more information, please visit