Love your Gut – Eat Potatoes!

The article was contributed by Carmen Hudson Health

Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material that live in your intestinal tract. These microorganisms, mostly containing bacteria, are involved in functions critical to your health and wellbeing. 

These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting the food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesising nutrients too. 

The bacteria in your gut are involved in many other critical processes which reach far beyond your gut, including your immune system, your metabolism and your weight. They also play an important role when it comes to your mental health by helping regulate your brain chemicals which ultimately effects your mood and how you interact with the world around you. 

So, what does a healthy gut look like and how do you achieve this?

When it comes to the research on gut health, we are still in its infancy. According to the latest research it’s safe to say that diversity is essential when trying to create a healthy microbiome (1). Eating a wide variety of foods to feed as many strains of bacteria as possible is key. Think of it like creating a diverse ecosystem so all the gut bacteria can work symbiotically helping one another achiever their lifetime goal. If one strains begins to struggle there will be another similar to pick up the slack, if your gut didn’t have a diverse ecosystem, there would be no other bacteria to pick up the slack which then opens up the flood gates for opportunistic bacteria to come to the party and play havoc. 

So, what part do potatoes play in maintaining gut health?

Well potatoes contain polyphenol compounds which are beneficial for gut health. Polyphenols are antioxidants which means they fight against oxidative stress and fight against inflammation (2) (3). 

This is critical to health as it is said that all disease’s such as cancers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s to name a few, start with oxidative stress leading to systemic inflammation. Gut health is crucial for brain health, it has been observed that people with neurodegenerative disease have gastrointestinal dysfunction  (2).  Meaning that what you choose to eat today has a long-standing impact to how you age and your quality of life in the future.  

Potatoes also contain fibre vital for gut health (3). Fibre is like an internal cleaner for your intestinal track, keeping you clean and ticking like clockwork. Your gut also loves to feed on fibres and starches to make things like short-chain fatty acids which ultimately exhibit an anti-inflammatory like effect on your mucous membrane and the starches feed specific bacteria (4). The best is resistant starch and a study has shown that cooking your potatoes and then allowing them to cool have the most benefit so make enough for leftovers and cash in on all the benefits. 

Potatoes are gut loving and should be included in a balanced diet!! We are so lucky that we have such a great selection here in WA. We have four growing regions in the South West ensuring you have access to freshly grown local potatoes all year round and with an abundance of varieties. Again, gut health is all about variety and diversity so instead of sticking to the same old variety have some fun and mix it up. Choosing from all the different shapes, sizes and colours. 

Bibliography

1. Gut Microbiome: Westernization and the Disappearance of Intestinal Diversity. Segata, Nicola. POVO : Centre for Integratice Biology, 2015, Vol. 5.

2. Polyphenols-gut microbiota interplay and brain neuromodulation. Filosa, Stefania , Di Meo, Francesco and Crispi, Stefania. 13, Napal : Neural Regeneration Research, 2018, Vol. 12, pp. 2055-2059.

3. Beneficial Effect of Potato Consumption on Gut Microbiota and Intestinal Epithelial Health. Bibi, Shima, et al. 5, Pullman : American Journal of Potato Research, 2019, Vol. 90.

4. Recent advances in potato production, usage, nutrition-a Review. Zaheer, Khalid and Akhtar, Humayoun. Ontario : Food Science and Nutrition, 2014.