The glory of gut bacteria

How boosting your microbiome might be the easiest way to boost your health

Most of us grow up thinking bacteria are bad for us, something to be banished with cleaning sprays. But that’s only half the story. Lots of bacteria are actually super good for us – essential, in fact, for a happy and healthy life. So let’s put these gritters under the microscope, find out more about what they do to the human body, and discover how easy it can be to boost your gut flora. But first let’s tackle a common source of confusion…
Prebiotics and probiotics: what’s the difference? Sound pretty similar, don’t they? And we need plenty of both to be healthy and happy. But what exactly are they?
Why are they so important? Prebiotics and probiotics work together as a dream team to keep our bodies healthy.
Friends with benefits? Encouraging friendly bacteria by eating pre- and probiotic foods can keep our brains healthy, too.
>So for the best chance of being healthy and happy, make sure you eat plenty of pre- and probiotic foods and give your gut some love.

Cooking for guests who are giving gluten a miss can be intimidating – especially as wheat flour manages to sneak its way into so many foods. But don’t panic. We’re here to take the stress out of entertaining with our top 5 gluten-free cookery tips.

1. Keep it natural

Lots of foods are naturally gluten free: meat, fish, veggies, pulses… to name a few. Building a menu around these foods is an easy way to make sure the star of the show is always a winner with your gluten free guests.

2. Check your labels

Keep a close eye on pre-made sauces as they often have gluten in. Soy sauce, for example, usually contains wheat, but tamari is a brilliant substitute as it’s naturally gluten free. Stock cubes are often made with wheat flour as a thickener, so look out for gluten-free stock cubes or use fresh stock. And if you’re buying the fresh stuff that comes in a tub, make sure to check the label.

3. Go with gluten-free grains

People sometimes forget that couscous is basically just tiny little balls of pasta, so it’s packed with gluten. Quinoa makes a fab alternative – it’s gluten free and rich in protein and fibre. Bulghur wheat is best given a miss, too (the clue’s in the name). But when it comes to rice – white, brown, basmati, whatever – it’s all gluten free so you can fill your boots.

4. Give wheat flour a miss

Soup, sauce and gravy recipes sometimes rely on wheat flour to thicken them up. Luckily cornflour and rice flour make fab alternatives. Start off using the same quantity as you would wheat flour and then add more, bit by bit, until you’ve got the consistency bang on.

5. Think grape, not grain

Lots of tasty sauces and gravies have beer in, especially when it comes to things like stews. The best substitute we know is red wine. You’ll get that rich, savoury, umami flavour without any gluten whatsoever. Perfect.

If you’re still stuck on what to cook, all the recipes on the Genius site are 100% gut lovin’ and totally gluten free. So why not take a look?