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Gut Health Revolution: For Gut Sake

Updated: 3 days ago

The Microbiome and Probiotic drinks - what is it and how can it improve our health?


Microbiome and probiotics: These have been the trend words in the health word in recent years. We have now entered 2023, and we are going to see more and more about this But why and what is it all about?


Bacteria is everywhere, on your skin, in your mouth and also in your gut. We have been told bacteria is bad, and associate bacteria with something that is negative for our health. But this is far from the truth. We have bad and good bacteria and we need both. Our bodies are home to over 100 trillion bacteria, over 1000 species and around 7-9000 strains of these species. These bacteria are essential for us. We have a symbiotic relationship, both parties have a mutualistic relationship and benefit each other.

Probiotics: “Pro” means for and biotic mean “life”. What does that translate to? For life, simple as that. But let me explain further.

Probiotics are tiny live microorganisms that give us positive health benefits when consumed. In other words, they control our health. We have a colony of bacteria that live in our intestines, also known as the colon. This army of tiny wee microorganisms has the control of what we absorb, how our immune system works, how our metabolism works, and most fascinating - preliminary research shows that bacteria can be controlling your emotions and appetite. WOW. Yes WOW. It is incredible how little focus these tiny wee organisms has and yet so much power.

Now all this magic happens in our gut. Our gut is the small and large intestine and its job is to extract energy from food, absorb nutrients and water and remove waste.

The home of the microbiome at the end of your colon. The microbiome helps to digest the foods we eat, they protect us against pathogens, they provide essential nutrients such as vitamins, and they train our immune system. The gastrointestinal tract or short for GI tract itself does not have all the tools to extract all nutrients for food, so probiotics are vital. The microbes additionally contribute to keeping the junction of the intestinal wall and mucosal cells tight. The gut microbes are also essential for the production of vitamins certain B vitamins, Vitamin K and folate production.

So we now understand how important the gut flora is to our health. How can we contribute? Simple. We can eat bacteria, yes you heard me right and don't worry. Bacteria is our friend, in fact, it's what makes us. The use of probiotic or fermented food and drink to improve health dates back to ancient times. As far back as the ancient Greeks and Egypt!

Consuming probiotic foods and drinks can have incredible health benefits to our mind and body. Probiotic drinks are drinks that have with added live culture to it and bacteria is produced by lactic acid fermentation, resulting in a drink with good bacteria. There is a wide range of different types such as kefir, kombucha, probiotic yoghurts, water, juices and so on.


Now the question is do you need to consume probiotic on a daily basis? Many Nutritionists would say yes, (better to be safe than sorry) but it depends on your diet. There are a lot of foods, especially processed foods, that can destroy our microbiome that can impact our health. As well, taking antibiotics and stress can impact our flora along with stress and artificial sweetener to mention a few things. If you want to keep your immune system and metabolism in check, I would highly recommend that you consume probiotics on a daily basis.

But how much should you consume? That's the tricky question. We still don't know exactly for sure, as some of the probiotic drinks/food/supplements we consume won't reach their final destination. But Tim Spector, FMedSci, which is a professor at King’s college and specialises in the microbiome, wrote in his best-selling book in 2015 “The Diet Myth” that we should consume at least 5000 bacterias a day with multiple different strains to achieve a health benefit from these little wonderful creatures.

References:

Markowiak P, Śliżewska K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1021. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.3390/nu9091021

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622781/

Shi LH, Balakrishnan K, Thiagarajah K, Mohd Ismail NI, Yin OS. Beneficial Properties of Probiotics. Trop Life Sci Res. 2016;27(2):73-90.[Text Wrapping Break]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031164/

Kechagia M, Basoulis D, Konstantopoulou S, et al. Health benefits of probiotics: a review. ISRN Nutr. 2013;2013:481651. Published 2013 Jan 2. doi:10.5402/2013/481651

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/

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