Gut health – my journey so far

Firstly, I should state that the stomach above is not mine. Mine has had two children, and bears only a passing resemblance to that taut glory.

I would like to talk about my stomach. It’s something that I’ve been increasingly focused on in my pursuit for better health. My past life of stressful career, too much booze, too little sleep, yoyo dieting (read about the relationship between gut health and obesity here) has played havoc with my gut bacteria.

My foray into fermented foods started innocently enough, I was tired of paying a fortune for good quality yoghurt, so discovered how easy it was to make my own. Then I was trying to cut back on the amount I was drinking, and needed a replacement drink in the evenings. So I started making my own kombucha. Most recently I found a fantastic supplier for sauerkraut (which I had never eaten before), tried it, liked it, and started eating it with eggs every morning.

Now these fermented foods are an essential part of my daily diet.

I’ve also learned a great deal lately about the relationship between healthy microbiomes and polyphenols, which are found in abundance in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. So I’ve made a few tweaks to get more of these antioxidant rich foods into my daily life:

  • I’ve switched black tea for green in the afternoons and evenings. I can’t give up my morning cup of English Breakfast! I also have a small container of Macha Tea, which I’d like to use more, but need to get accustomed to the taste.
  • I was using frozen mixed berries in my smoothies. I’ve now switched to blueberries only.
  • I’ve found a fantastic sugar free dark chocolate. Chocolate Brown (based in Warkworth) make a 56% dark chocolate, sweetened with maltitol. I buy mine from Farro Fresh, but they also sell online.
  • Having written about wine in moderation, I realised that most of the health benefits I had listed related to red wine. I have been a white wine drinker predominantly. So I’ve switched to pinot noir. I drink it slower, so I drink less, and it’s better for me.

It’s early days but I am feeling the results. My energy levels are improving. My digestion is more consistent. My skin is better and I’ve lost the dark circles under my eyes. I’m getting compliments about how well I look.

They’ve all been small changes to make, which to date, have been reasonably simple. I haven’t practiced elimination, I don’t like the idea of excluding certain food groups. For me it’s been more about addition and limitation. Adding fermented foods, adding more coloured fruits and vegetables, reducing my wine intake. It seems to be working.

Source:,, University of Maryland Medical Centre



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