29th January 2021

All About Gut Bacteria.

The benefit our gut bacteria can bring to our long-term health and wellbeing is one of the most exciting areas of my work as a Registered Nutritionist. Living near the beautiful Chiltern Hills happily means that ‘Tims’ is our local supplier of delicious bio-live Greek-style yogurt, and now Kefir, too!

Just how does Kefir, an ancient fermented milk drink, naturally work with our own biology to enhance best health and emotional wellbeing?

Nature depends on valuable bacteria for many processes. Just as plant roots depend on bacteria in the soil to absorb nutrients more efficiently, we too depend on our gut bacteria. These microbes were on earth long before we were – it’s no wonder then that we have evolved together to benefit each other. By fermenting fibre from our food, our gut bacteria get their energy to thrive and in return make vitamins and valuable compounds for us, regulating our hormones and immune system. Naturally probiotic food like KEFIR, boosts our own gut bacteria as well as providing beneficial products of fermentation.

Good news – together with eating plenty of fibre each day, enjoying naturally ‘probiotic’ foods brimming with these ‘good’ bacteria (like Tims kefir made with 12 active cultures) is a delicious way to nurture our all-important Gut Health!

Benefits to our Immune System and Mood.

80% of the cells which make up our immune system sit within our gut wall. Our gut bacteria here train our immune cells to develop correctly, responding well when we need them to, but not over-responding – as can happen with autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis. Even more interesting is our ‘Gut-Brain’ axis. Our gut microbes produce chemicals for the communication between our gut and brain via our vagus nerve – which influences our mood. Our bacterial production of the building blocks of our happiness hormone, serotonin, has a key role to play in regulating our emotional wellbeing.

Lactose free – for those who are lactose intolerant, Tims have thoughtfully made their kefir lactose-free. This is great news as Dairy contains so many hidden nutrients, valuable not only for our health but for the growth and development of our younger generations too. Take Iodine for example, currently low in our UK food yet essential for growth and also brain development during pregnancy; 1 glass of kefir gives nearly 50% of our daily requirement.

As we all become more aware of the origins of our food, the fact that Tims source their milk from British west-country farms, all of whom are part of the Red Tractor quality assurance scheme, means we know with every spoonful, we’re refuelling with British food that’s been produced with the highest welfare standards and respect for the environment too!

Why not try your next Tims kefir, as my family did recently, mixed with some Scottish raspberries and British oats in a quick and healthy Scottish Cranachan recipe or on overnight-soaked oats and chia seeds for a quick and healthy breakfast.

You can find out more on nutrition and healthy eating here https://lwnutrition.co.uk

Winner of the Caroline Walker Trust Freelance Nutritionist of the Year Award 2020, Dr Lucy Williamson works with British food producers providing nutrition support, enabling them to effectively communicate the health benefits of their produce. She’s also Ambassador and Nutritionist for the Love British Food campaign and Visiting Lecturer at Hertfordshire University. Lucy has asked us to make a charitable donation for this feature.

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