By Sue Bedford MSc Nutritional Therapy
All health starts with the gut. If nutrients cannot be digested and absorbed from our food correctly then this will impact on all of the body organs and systems in some way, including the reproductive system.
It is important to ensure that the gut is full of healthy bacteria at least three months before conception for a variety of reasons. These reasons include: for the effective absorption of vital nutrients, enhancing the immune system, and also to reduce inflammation in the body. The health of a mother’s gut is vital prior to conception as it has been linked to reduced eczema, asthma and coeliac disease risk, along with improved immune function in children (to name a few).
How can healthy gut bacteria be improved?
Consume a good variety of prebiotic foods as these will help to support probiotic bacteria.
Consume some fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir to support gut flora.
Consume foods containing probiotic bacteria.
Consider taking a probiotic supplement
What are prebiotics and probiotics?
Prebiotics are important in our gut as they help the growth of good bacteria (Probiotics). They come mostly from carbohydrate fibres called Oligosaccharides. As they are not digested, they remain in the digestive tract and encourage the good bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to grow.
Prebiotics are naturally found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Good sources are garlic, onions, leeks and bananas.
Probiotics are useful live bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus which help to maintain the balance in the digestive system and help to keep it healthy.
Probiotic sources are: yoghurt containing live bacteria culture, cheese that is not baked, sauerkraut, miso and fermented milk. Some foods also have probiotics added to them.
Why not try making your own sauerkraut? (soured cabbage)
One tbsp good quality sea salt
One tbsp of either caraway seeds or chopped dill