Gut health: what you should know
The relationship between your gut and your overall well being is becoming more and more evident as research progresses.
What was once thought of as a one-way street from the brain to the gut has now been revealed bidirectional, with your gut influencing your brain so profoundly that some scientists are referring to it as a ‘Second Brain’. On top of this, the gut biome plays a crucial role in many other important processes in the human body.
There is a constant battle between ‘good and evil’ in the gastro intestinal tract, and it is the food coming in that determines the winner. The modern food environment offers a constant supply of trans-fats, refined flours and excess sugar, all geared towards satisfying the reward centres in the brain to ensure you keep coming back for more, with no regard for your overall health.
These foods have been shown to nourish the ‘bad bacteria’ of the gut, which in turn leads to the production of inflammatory cytokines and other metabolites which can hijack the bodies balance, resulting in a range of adverse health effects.
However, do not lose hope; There are a variety of ways to combat the bad and nourish the good. Both probiotics and prebiotics can provide the gut with the ammunition necessary to start shifting its flora back to a healthy balance.
Probiotic refers to the beneficial microorganisms that line the gastro intestinal tract, usually certain bacteria or yeasts.
The most prominent genera of bacteria studied in this area of research are the Lactobacillius and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria are involved in useful processes such as B12 synthesis, regulatory T cell secretion and the production of enzymes targeted towards breaking down the bad bacteria and pathogenic competition, reducing inflammation.
Probiotics are currently one of the hottest topics in the nutrition world. Nutraceuticals offers more than fifteen variants, at a range of concentrations to fit any application, including Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillius acidophilus, and Enterococcus faecium.
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Prebiotics are indigestible, fermentable carbohydrates found in food that provide a substrate for specific beneficial microorganisms in the gut, most prominently nourishing Bifidobacteria. Common food sources of prebiotic include Jerusalem artichoke, chicory and garlic.
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