We are home to many beneficial bacteria contained in our digestive system and organs. These bacteria are collectively known as gut microbiome (formally gut flora) and are actually doing wonders for us.
The exact number of bacteria just hanging out in our digestive system is beyond belief. It is estimated that an average adult has approximately 100 trillion of microorganisms in the intestinal system with between 300 and 1000 different kinds of beneficial species. Luckily they are so microscopically small, there is plenty of room for them all to do their very important jobs.
- Colonise the Colon!
Top of the list of jobs for these little critters is colonising beneficial bacteria in the gut.
When all is going well, these bacteria run their ship pretty sufficiently. However problems arise when the bad bacteria out number the good – things can start to go a little haywire. Imbalance can occur because of a number of different reasons including medications, excess sugars in the diet, illness and disease or lifestyle choices. By preventing the growth of ÔÇÿbad’ unhelpful bacteria, good bacteria (contained in probiotics) restore the natural balance to the digestive system.
Like any living organism however, probiotics need food to survive. Prebiotics are nutrients that induce growth or activity by helping to nourish and feed probiotics to allow them to complete their functions successfully. Found in asparagus, artichokes, chickpeas, chicory root and fibres such as psyllium and slippery elm, prebiotics and are an important inclusion to look for in a probiotic formula.
- Immunity Icons!
As well as restoring balance in the gut microbiome, probiotics help to boost the hosts immune system. By increasing the ÔÇÿarmy’ of good bacteria in the gut microbiome, fermentation of nutrients can occur successfully in the digestive system. This can be especially important for those suffering from reoccurring bouts of illness, where the balance of good bacteria simply has not been restored in time for the body to defend yet another attack to the immune system.
- Support Rebuilding and Repair of Microvilli
Microvilli are microscopic finger like cells that line the intestinal wall. These cells actually increase the surface area of the gut, allowing for increased absorption of nutrients. Microvilli can be damaged or compromised in digestive conditions such as IBS, or IBD (Crohn’s disease and colitis) and mean the body does not necessarily absorb the essential nutrients it requires. Probiotics support the rebuilding and repair of the microvilli cells in the gut allowing for increased absorption because of increased surface area.
- Rebalance the imbalance of antibiotics
Antibiotics, as the name would suggest, attack bad bacteria but also start to compromise good bacteria. This can then result in an imbalance of bacteria, where bad bacteria thrive and can cause those classic stomach unpleasantries to arise. Bloating, gas, belching, diarrhoea and even constipation can be the initial negative symptoms of a bacteria imbalance. However things can get worse when the immune system is weakened, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis can flare up causing irritation and discomfort for the host. Probiotics help to restore the good bacteria into the body by boosting numbers of beneficial bacteria rather than the bad bacteria.
- Mood Support
It is now thought that a healthy gut flora can actually directly effect what kind of mood you are in. Suggestions are that up to 85% of the serotonin receptor sites in your body are in the gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that omits feelings such as happiness, laughter and positivity so when serotonin is low we start to feel the opposite of these emotions. Probiotics are thought to allow for serotonin receptor sites to flourish and thrive in the gut.
It’s important to look for a probiotic with several strains as well as at least one prebiotic to provide nutrient for the probiotics. It is recommended to consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns in regards to digestive conditions or symptoms that you may be suffering from.