We Are Not Alone
Well, not alone in our guts, that’s for sure. We are home to many, many bacteria contained in our large intestine, small intestine, stomach, ascending and descending colon, transverse and sigmoid colon, rectum and anus. These bacteria and their complex communities, are known as gut microbiome (formally gut flora) and are actually doing wonders for our insides and outsides.
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 microscopic so there is plenty of room for them all to do their jobs.
These bacteria play such important roles for their hosts. As well as supporting the immune system, they help to prevent the growth of unhelpful bacteria. They also aid in producing key vitamins such as vitamin K and biotin.
When all is going well, these bacteria run their ship efficiently. However problems arise when the bad bacteria outnumber the good; things can start to go a little haywire.
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 un-pleasantries to arise. Bloating, gas, belching, diarrhoea and even constipation can be possible symptoms of a bacteria imbalance.
Basically everything becomes out of whack when the gut microbiome is unbalanced, making for a very unhappy belly.
Adjusting the Balance of Good and Bad
Gut health cannot be underestimated. A healthy microbiome is the key to a thriving, healthy body.
This is why supplementing with probiotics to ensure the body is equipped with good bacteria, could be beneficial.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that have been shown to help support immunity and digestion, as well as helping to reduce any digestive discomfort. By supporting the balance of the gut microbiometion support is also given to the digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as for immune function and general digestive health.
Pre before Pro
Poor diet and lifestyle choices, some medications, and travelling are just some scenarios where the gut microbiome may be affected. By supplementing the body with probiotics, balance can be quickly restored and may help with any digestive symptoms or upset, and if taken beforehand may help to reduce their occurrence.
Like any living organism however, probiotics need food to survive. Prebiotics are nutrients that help support the growth and activity of the gut microbiome.
Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics, as they help to nourish and feed the bacteria in our gut, helping them to flourish in order to maintain and perform their function in the gut. Prebiotics are found in asparagus, artichokes, chickpeas, chicory root and fibres such as psyllium and slippery elm.
If you have recently been on a course of antibiotics, or if travelling, or are displaying symptoms of digestive imbalance, probiotics may be a good option to consider. It’s a good idea to look for a probiotic with several strains as well as at least one prebiotic to help provide nutrients for the bacteria.
It is recommended to consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns in regards to digestive conditions or symptoms which you may be experiencing.