As many as 500 species of bacteria live in your gastrointestinal system and their total mass is estimated to weigh about 1.5kg.
Thanks to their various actions, what happens in your gut can have a powerful influence on your health and well-being.
Comprised of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines and rectum, the gastrointestinal system (or gut) has an average length of between six and nine metres. It is populated throughout with bacteria, with the majority residing in the colon. Together with yeasts and other microbes, these bacteria have an essential role in our digestive processes.
Influence on weight
These bacteria aid the production of vitamins and fatty acids, and are critical to the development of a normal immune system. Researchers have found they can influence weight, energy and nutrition, and support your brain health, both psychologically and neurologically.
A healthy gut consists of around 80 to 85 per cent beneficial bacteria and 15 to 20 per cent of potentially harmful bacteria. When this balance is upset – such as during times of poor diet, illness or antibiotic use – additional gut health support may be required.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, specifically bacteria, that can improve digestion, enhance the immune system and protect against disease. Other beneficial organisms that live in our gastrointestinal tract include yeasts and fungi.
Create a gut that is the perfect host to bacteria with a diet rich in vegetables fruit and wholegrains.
Together, all the microorganisms that live and grow inside our gut, are referred to as our microbiome. There is a lot of exciting new scientific research that is being carried out right now which indicates many aspects of our health and well-being are critically affected by the types of bacteria that are flourishing within our gut.
Numerous poor health conditions can be an indication that our microbiome is out of balance. If you are experiencing symptoms such as bloating, colic (that is abdominal pain), wind or nausea, then you may have an imbalance in the populations of the microorganisms in your gut.
Probiotics especially have been positively indicated as support for many conditions including diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema (and other allergies) and coughs and colds.
A further aspect of good gut health is prebiotics. These non-digestible ingredients of food can also promote the activity of ‘good’ bacteria. They naturally occur in food such as banana, asparagus, leek, onion and garlic as well as wholegrains such as wheat, rye, barley and oats.
Foods rich in probiotic bacteria include fermented vegetables (preferably homemade) or traditionally fermented foods such as lassi (an Indian yogurt drink), kefir and yogurt made from raw milk or fermented soy or coconut.
If sourcing probiotics this way, choose unpasteurised products, because many naturally-occurring probiotics are destroyed by the high-heat pasteurisation process. If these unpasteurised foods are unavailable or not to your liking, a high-quality probiotic supplement as prescribed by your natural health practitioner is the next best option.
It is essential to consult on the most appropriate probiotic and dose because different probiotic strains have different effects. Importantly, you can create a gut that is the perfect host to bacteria with a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and wholegrains. Regular exercise, stress management and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking will also promote conditions that encourage the proliferation of ‘good’ bacteria.
Diet and lifestyle predominantly play the overriding factor in gut health. Excessive consumption of alcohol (moderate consumption is indicated as being beneficial), smoking, hydrogenated fats, highly refined foods, and of sugar, all lead to major disruptions in the balance of ‘good bugs versus bad bugs’. Even lack of exercise has been shown to cause a negative imbalance in gut bacteria.
Keeping your diet rich in whole foods, whole grains, and fresh unprocessed ingredients, along with a daily intake of some fermented foods, benefits the body greatly and helps reduce many poor health conditions. Establishing a daily exercise regime can also help you maintain a healthy gut population and balance. Achieving this may let your body experience the true power of probiotics.
Further Information: www.purehealthandwellness.com.au Tel: 08 2774 9378