Probiotics Explored: Building a Healthy Gut Biome

Probiotics Explored: Building a Healthy Gut Biome

An Introduction to Probiotics

Probiotics are the live bacteria and yeast that live in your body, and have positive benefits for your overall health and wellbeing, particularly in the digestive system. Within the body there are both good and bad bacteria, but probiotics are often referred to as a “good” or “helpful” kind.

Probiotics aid in your digestive process, helping food pass through the gut by affecting the nerves that control gut movement. The gut is responsible for extracting energy, nutrients and water from your diet, as well as control the waste products produced by this process.

As your body is unable to digest and absorb all of the nutrient from your food, the microbiome of your gut – the collection of bacteria that work together within the digestive tract – helps to bridge the gap. They support your body in the breakdown of food, to support your immune system and strength of your intestines.

Why is this important?

There has been research carried out on the link between defects in the gut microbiome and health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, poor mental health. These links show a strong connection between the health of your gut, and the impacts that can have on your mind and body. That’s why it’s so important that you consider your gut and its needs in your diet and lifestyle. 

What can damage a gut microbiome?

A poor diet: one rich in refined and processed carbohydrates, ultimately starves the gut bacteria, causing them to decline. This includes white pasta, sugars, white bread etc.

Poor sleep: disrupts the gut bacteria, as their activity is relative to your circadian rhythm, the system that causes you to wake and sleep. Making sure you get enough restful sleep each night is crucial to maintaining a healthy microbiome.

Other factors such as stress and overuse of antibiotics can negatively impact the gut. Studies show that people who have high levels of day-to-day stress have both higher amounts of bad bacteria and lower amounts of good bacteria – probiotics – in their system. 

Now, what steps can you take to ensure that your gut has the most support possible?

A balanced diet: A high fibre diet with vegetables, wholegrains and legumes contains high numbers of prebiotics – food for the probiotics in your system that allows them to thrive. Also consider probiotic rich foods, such as yoghurts, kimchi and other fermented delicacies – which contain the helpful bacteria themselves, and increases their numbers in your body. 

Hydration: Water is also crucial to the digestion of food in your gut, so ensuring you drink plenty will help the good bacteria break down nutrients and absorb them. Drinking water has also been linked to increased diversity of gut bacteria. 

Polyphenols: Rich plant compounds that beneficially impact the gut microbiome, polyphenols are found in herbs and spices, nuts, tea, coffee, dark chocolate.

Probiotic supplements: Supplements can be used to great effect to bolster the number of healthy bacteria in your microbiome. Given that there are more than 500 species of probiotic bacteria, each one with its own benefits and weaknesses, it can be hard to find genuinely beneficial products. 

There are a few that have a universally positive application, for example the Lactobacillus genus, particularly Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This is most well-known probiotic available today, found naturally across the body, in the mouth, lungs, gut, urinary tracts and more. A simple daily dose can be sufficient in greatly boosting the effectiveness of your microbiome and your overall gut health, you can find yours here

Probiotics are great to take in the morning, on an empty stomach – this greatly improves their survival rate as they travel through the digestive tract. It also aids with the consistency of taking them, as you can easily incorporate it into your morning routine. 

The taking of a probiotic is not something that you will feel the benefits of straight away. It takes a consistent effort to influence the microbiome of your gut, due to its complexity. Depending on your own individual sensitivity, you could feel the effects in as little as 1-2 weeks. 

Etanics advise

There is a lot of ongoing research surrounding the benefits of probiotics, the functions of the microbiome and its links to the mind and body. Different probiotics supplements are available, and while they may not be a complete solution to any one health issue or complaint, they can definitely fill an important area of your overall health. We always recommend talking to your healthcare provider before taking a probiotic, as they can help you to do it safely and monitor your health journey.

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