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 ÔÇÿbad’ 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 pretty sufficiently. However, problems arise when the bad bacteria out number 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 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.
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 can not be underestimated. Some say gut health is the key to a thriving, healthy body and without healthy bacteria, disease in the body arises. This is where supplementing with probiotics to ensure the body is equipped with good bacteria, is so important.
Probiotics are good microorganisms that have been shown to increase immunity, improve digestion, as well as reducing any digestive discomfort. By increasing good bacteria in the gut microbiome, fermentation of nutrients can occur successfully and support to the immunity and digestion is provided.
Pre before Pro
Poor diet and lifestyle choices, medications, travelling and illness are just some scenarios where the gut microbiome can be compromised. By supplementing the body with probiotics, balance can be quickly restored and may prevent any of the unbalanced symptoms occurring. Like any living organism however, probiotics need food to survive. Prebiotics are nutrients that induce growth or activity in probiotics.
Prebiotics are just as important as probiotics, as they help to nourish and feed probiotics in order complete their functions successfully. 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 other medication, if you have recently travelled overseas, or are displaying symptoms of digestive imbalance, probiotics may be a good option to consider. 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.