- Did you know that 70% of our immune system resides in the gut?
- Did you know that 90% of our happy hormone serotonin is made in the gut?
If you did, then you will understand just how important taking care of our gut really is.
So how can we do this? Well one way is to ensure we are having an adequate intake of both pre and probiotics.
The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, otherwise known as the gut flora. Bacteria is often viewed in a negative way, however there are some good bacteria’s which provide many benefits. Healthy good bacteria play numerous roles including discouraging the growth of bad bacteria, producing vitamins and helping the body to digest fibre.
The role which the gut flora plays in our immune system starts from birth. We are born with an innate immune system which develops and grows along with the body. The body has twenty times more bacteria cells than living cells and having the right bacteria is vital for keeping the immune system strong and able to fight off infections. Having a wide and diverse gut flora made up of many different types of microorganisms helps the immune system to decipher which types of bacteria are harmful to the body, to those which are beneficial.
To achieve a diverse gut flora a varied diet is vital. This will ensure that the diversity of the bacterial population is optimal, as each bacterium has its own role to play. Studies have also shown that ensuring a diverse mix of bacteria in the gut can reduce the number of coughs and colds along with the impact of auto immune diseases.
There are two types of bacteria which are good for the body; Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, also known as probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms which can reach the large intestine in an active state. Here they consume the nutrients that would feed the bad bacteria whilst also turning the digestive tract more acidic, making it very hard for undesirables to survive. This can exert positive health effects on us which include boosting immunity and increasing the resistance to infections.
Probiotics have been shown to relieve symptoms of IBS and help improve digestion. It has been estimated that nearly half of people diagnosed with IBS have a higher ratio of bad to good bacteria and will therefore benefit from consuming probiotics.
Probiotics can also help repair and heal the digestive tract. When the tract becomes inflamed, by disease or infection, it can become highly absorbent, developing food allergies. The digestive tract can be restored to good health by short chain fatty acids which are naturally produced by Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
Probiotics are also encouraged to be consumed by travellers as they have been shown to help speed up the recovery time from bouts of diarrhoea
Get me some probiotics! These include Kefir, Miso, Saurkraut, Kimchi & natural yogurt into your meals.
Prebiotics help promote the growth of healthy bacteria inside the gut by feeding them.
Prebiotic substances are large molecular carbohydrates called polysaccharides which are unable to be broken down in the upper part of the digestive tract and therefore reach the large intestine undigested. This allows the good bacteria to feast upon them, a process called saccharolytic fermentation. During this process the bacteria forms a substance called butyric acid. This acid has been shown to help reduce inflammation and repair damaged areas within the gut. Additionally, this allows the gut flora to reproduce the good bacteria, leading to a healthier gut environment. This can result in regular bowel movements and enable the gut flora do their job’s more effectively.
Get me some prebiotics! These include Bananas, oats, onions, leeks, Jerusalem artichoke
So get looking after your gut today!