Microorganisms and gut health
Gut health is important for our overall wellbeing.
Known as the microbiota
Consists of 100 trillion bacteria
These microorganisms evolved a symbiotic relationship with humans
A healthy gut microbiota is critical for gut health and proper digestions
-Helps digest foods and provide nutrients
-Stimulates epithelial cell differentiation and proliferation – these cells regulate intestinal homeostasis
-Induce antimicrobial peptide secretion – helps to protect from pathogens in our guts
-Intricately involved in the immune system
Imbalances in gut microbiota have been associated with:
-Obesity and metabolic diseases
-Inflammatory diseases, such as asthma and Crohn’s disease
-HIV disease progression
-Depression and mood disorders
-Cardiovascular health problems
Dangers to the microbiota include:
2. Triclosan in antibacterial gel and soap products
3. Diet low in fiber and high in unhealthy fats and processed foods
So how do we help boost the health and diversity of our microbiotas?
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as “live microorganisms that can provide benefits to human health when administered in adequate amounts, which confer a beneficial health effect on the host.”
There are numerous studies that demonstrate the benefits of supplementing with probiotics. Benefits found in studies include the prevention and treatment of:
-Pediatric allergic disorders
-IBD, such as Crohn’s disease
-Dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract
-Prevention of respiratory tract infections, such as a cold
Probiotic use has been shown to decrease intestinal permeability.
Prebiotics are dietary fibers that have a positive impact on our gut microbiota and therefore our health.
All prebiotics are fibers, but not all fibers are prebiotics.
Prebiotics are food for probiotics, and it is through this mechanism that they play an important role in our health.
Insulin and galacto-oligosaccharides are the only supplement ingredients that fulfil the definition of prebiotics.
Once in the colon, prebiotics are fermented by microorganisms that live in the colon and form short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The majority of the organisms in the colon are anaerobic and get the energy they need from this fermentation of prebiotics.
Our diet is of crucial importance in maintaining a healthy microbiota as different microorganisms require different food from our diets to thrive.
The antiinflammatory effects of fiber are likely due to the SCFAs that they are broken into when fermented by our microbiota.
In addition to eating an organic, whole foods diet, it is a good idea to add in prebiotic and probiotic supplements.
Foods high in prebiotics:
5. Soy Beans
Foods high in probiotics (fermented foods):
Synbiotics are synergistic combinations of probiotics and prebiotics
Switching your probiotic supplement is a good idea. Different strains provide different health benefits, even with strains of the same genus and species exhibiting different effects.
Probiotics can be dangerous for those with compromised immune systems.
1. The role of probiotics and prebiotics in inducing gut immunity
2. Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics
3. Prebiotics and the health benefits of fiber…