Cut Your Gut-harmful Habits And Improve Your Immunity

Young woman picking mint leaves at kitchen island

By Shann Jones – gut health expert, nutritional advisor and founder of Chuckling Goat

Shann-Nix Jones

Shann-Nix Jones

Your body takes a beating over the winter months, and your immune system gets the tough job of trying to keep you safe. Four-fifths of your immune system is located in your gut microbiome, where trillions of fragile living bacteria are fighting every day to keep you healthy, and defend you against the cold and flu pathogens that can make you ill.

Shot of a group of businesswomen standing in a row and looking at the camera with one blowing her nose

Pic: iStockphoto

You may not realise it – but some of your everyday habits may be harming your faithful gut bugs, impairing their ability to protect you. So, it’s worth cutting back on these “Gut-Harmful” habits that impair your microbiome diversity, as they kill off beneficial gut bugs leaving you more vulnerable to colds and flu:

  • Sugar. Avoid sugar whenever possible. Sugar can keep beneficial microbes from colonising your gut, by halting the production of certain proteins that foster their growth
  • Artificial sweeteners. Sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin have been shown to disrupt the balance and diversity of gut microbiota. Try 100% pure stevia, yacon syrup or medjool dates
  • Processed food. Food additives, such as emulsifiers, which are ubiquitous in processed foods, have also been shown to affect the gut microbiota in animals. Home-cooked is best!
  • The low FODMAP diet. Although it may relieve IBS symptoms in the short term, adhering to a low FODMAP diet over time has been shown to lead to profound changes in the microbiota and metabolome.  The idea here is to restore gut health so that you can enjoy a wide diversity of foods, which feed a wide diversity of gut bugs
  • Medications including laxatives, progesterone, PPIs, and antibiotics. Look for natural alternatives to health issues like medicinal herbs, which do not harm the microbiome.

You can repair the damage that may have already been done by drinking probiotic goats milk kefir, and taking a Complete Prebiotic. If you imagine that your gut is a river, populated with delicate wildlife that may have been killed off by your ingestion of sugar and chemicals, then traditionally-made, unflavoured goats milk kefir made with real kefir “grains” is the most powerful and effective way to put the fish back into the river. The live cultures in kefir have been shown to survive the digestive tract to repopulate your microbiome.


But then those living organisms need to be fed, in order to survive! Recent research shows that different beneficial strains of bacteria eat different types of fibre – up to 18 different types of fibre, many found in exotic foods like arrowroot and tamarind seed, that you may not be consuming in your daily diet. The quickest and easiest solution is the Complete Prebiotic from Chuckling Goat, which combines all the powders your gut bugs need to thrive.

Chuckling Goat Prebiotic


Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!