Studies show that gut health is intrinsically linked to our overall physical and mental health. by nurturing our gut, we are not only looking after our digestive system, but also optimising our mind and general wellbeing.
Within our gut, there is a complex network of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters, which form our enteric nervous system – sometimes referred to as our “second brain” due to its complexity and significance. This communicates directly with our brain (and vice versa) through what is known as the Gut-Brain Axis. Understanding this, it is easy to appreciate the importance of a happy gut!
Our gut is home to an entire eco system of beneficial microbes, known as our gut microbiome – the contents of which are unique to each of us. Maintaining the right quantity and diversity of these microbes is key to ensuring gut health and this is where the importance of diet comes in.
Eating a varied diet, rich in whole foods and avoiding processed foods and refined sugars is crucial; in addition to this, probiotics will help increase the number and diversity of beneficial bacteria within our gut. Fermented foods are a great way to do this, but there are also many drinks which are fantastic for gut health and we are seeing a sharp rise in their popularity - and it’s no wonder when they taste so good as well!
Here are our top 4 gut-health drink trends to try now:
1. Creative coffees
Most of us have a favourite, go-to coffee. However, with ever increasing numbers going caffeine or lactose free, alternative coffee options are only going to get bigger.
The popularity of non-dairy milk - whether for health, environmental or humanitarian reasons - has led to the availability of a vast range of nut and grain milks. From cashew to hazelnut, coconut, rice, oat and hemp (to name but a few) there are a wealth of flavours to suit all tastes, each with their own health claims. These can put a new twist on an old coffee favourite.
For caffeine-free alternatives with added health benefits, try a superfood latte made with nut milks. Turmeric lattes, or “golden milk” boast anti-inflammatory properties. Also well worth a taste is the bright pink and naturally sweet, beetroot latte – full of antioxidants, with potential heart and liver benefits. There are many others, in all colours of the rainbow - charcoal, lavender, spirulina – you may never crave a cappuccino again!
In the U.S.A., word has it that a top wellness coffee for 2019 is the CBD latte – made with cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant. Packed with antioxidants and said to increase energy whilst decreasing anxiety, it could be the perfect drink to start the day!
As more people reach for the alcohol-free option, Kombucha cocktails could be the next big drink trend to look out for. With all the flavour of their alcoholic equivalents, but none of the undesirable side-effects, plus the added benefits of Kombucha, it’s easy to see why!
Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented tea drink, which is rich in probiotics and antioxidants and has a range of potential health benefits. With a slightly sour tang and distinctive taste, it’s the perfect mixer for a healthy mocktail.
3. functional waters
Water, with added aquaceuticals (supplementary ingredients such as vitamins and minerals, acids, herbs and botanicals, fruit and vegetable extracts) combine all the hydrating benefits of water, with potential health boosts.
There are many to choose from, offering a variety of health benefits in delicious flavours – protein water as an alternative to protein shakes, electrolyte rebalancing for rapid hydration, immune system support, ones for a quick energy lift, even collagen water to enhance our skin from the inside out.
Coconut water is nature’s own functional water, a great all-natural alternative to sports drinks. Rich in potassium, it is said to replenish electrolytes, lower blood pressure and reduce muscle tension. With so many great tasting options, getting our daily water quota in should never feel like a chore again!
4. probiotic drinks
Besides Kombucha as we mentioned earlier, there are many probiotic drinks available to boost our beneficial bacteria and support our gut health. Look out for apple cider vinegar tonics, probiotic yoghurt drinks and nutrient packed, fermented drinks such as Kefir and Kvass.
Bone broth remains a favourite for very good reason – it provides a rich source of minerals and amino acids and is full of natural collagen, making it a fantastic all-round health drink.
With such a variety of delicious health drinks to choose from, it’s easy to enhance our gut health every day. What’s more, by doing so, we are supporting our physical and mental health and wellbeing too. Why not add a daily health drink to your general wellness routine, supercharging both your gut and your mind?!
By Gemma Coldwell - Contributing editor
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