Dr Ross Walker is an eminent practising cardiologist with a passion for people and health. Considered one of the world’s best keynote speakers and life coaches, he is the author of seven best-selling books, and health presenter in the Australian Media.
Gut health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now… and very rightly so. The health of your gut can have a significant impact on your wellbeing, benefiting cardiovascular health and your immunity levels.
To put it simply, our gut contains trillions of microbes which help with digestion, the creation of some nutrients, and the release of particular substances, called metabolites. These metabolites have been seen to influence the risk for some chronic diseases, one of which being heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s largest growing health problems, affecting 4.2 million people, and to put that into perspective for you, that’s one in six Australians.
If you’d like to ensure that your gut, and in turn, heart, is as healthy as it possibly can be, why not aim to incorporate these 5 food habits in your diet:
1. Pre and Probiotics
Eating foods which contain probiotics has been linked to healthier blood pressure, and it is also thought that prebiotics also play an important part in helping to lower blood pressure as well. 4 Foods containing pre- and pro-biotics include:” Asparagus, sweet potatoes, leeks, endive, onions, chicory, yoghurt and bananas.
2. Leafy greens
One gut metabolite, known as trimethylamine (TMA), is formed when the microbes feed on choline, a nutrient which is found in red meat, fish, eggs and poultry. This metabolite is then converted into trimethylamine-N-oxide in the liver. This can cause problems as the substance has the ability to cause artery clogging plague to form. Dr Ross Walker suggests to try cut down on meat, fish and eggs and replace them with gut and heart-friendly green and leafy foods. Why not opt for meat-free options two or three times a week?
Many green vegetables contain sugar sulfoquinovose (SQ), which has been found to help with the production of good bacteria in the gut. As daunting as it may sound, aim to eat at least 7-8 servings of greens a day. Why not chuck in some kale, lettuce and spinach into a morning smoothie? Or even some celery juice as a refreshing snack? The options are endless when it comes to greens… you can steam them, juice them, roast them, or even just eat them raw!
A high salt intake has been shown to have a negative effect on gut health and may also increase the risk of inflammatory diseases as well as affecting high blood pressure. Rather than adding in some additional taste with salt, have a look through your herb garden for more gut and heart-friendly toppings. Try basil, parsley, bay leaves or some coriander?
Try to always load up your plate with fibre rich and fermented foods. We’ve all seen or heard someone taking about kombucha in the past few months, and there is a very good reason for it! Gut health! Other options include sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt.
Garlic is a great way to add taste to even the simplest of meals! What most people don’t know however, is that garlic, in particular, aged garlic, is a MUST for good heart health as well as gut health. Studies have found that 600-1,500 mg of kyolic aged garlic extract was just as effective as prescribed medication at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period.
Talk to your health practitioner about how to take care of your heart and gut with foods and supplements for your individual circumstance.