You might have heard of the famous saying by Hippocrates that “all disease begins in the gut”. Nothing is truer than this, as modern research has proven that when we have poor gut health, we tend to have poor health generally. The trillions of bacteria living in us, called the microbiome, play a key role to our health by helping coordinate our entire immune response, not only to digest food.
GUT BACTERIA AND IMMUNITY
Our gut bacteria breaks down food and produces nutrients that have a significant role in our health. They also defend us from pathogenic bacteria as they produce signalling molecules that help the immune system respond appropriately to food, pathogens, and toxins.
The bugs in our gut use fibre as fuel and create a type of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) which can enhance the immune system, leading to things like an increase in T cell (immune cell) production, and a reduction of inflammation.
One way the microbes in the gut help, is through competing for space with pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The more types of bacteria we have, the more pathogenic bacteria they can defend.
Probiotic foods and probiotics supplements have shown to improve symptoms in patients with chronic inflammation and autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and even multiple sclerosis. They’ve even shown to help neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
GUT BACTERIA AND DETOXIFICATION
Some strains of bacteria play a critical role in detoxifying things like xenobiotics (chemical pollutants, pesticides, food additives) and drugs.
Taking probiotics as a supplement or as a natural part of your food can give you extra support when dealing with toxins. For most of us heavy metals, pesticides, and other xenobiotics have become an unavoidable part of daily life. From the food we eat to the air we breath, these toxins are everywhere.
Thankfully, specific strains of probiotics have shown to protect us from these dangerous compounds. By improving the gut barrier and preventing the absorption of heavy metals, Lactobacillus strains provide significant protection from toxins. Additionally some types of good bacteria neutralise and help the excretion of toxins.
FACTORS AFFECTING THE GOOD BACTERIA
An imbalance of good bacteria may be caused by being born by C-section, antibiotics, large number of toxins entering the body, poor sleep, stress, high sugar levels, high processed-food diet, medication and alcohol. Make sure you follow a lifestyle that supports a good microbiome balance!
FEED THE GOOD BACTERIA
You can restore your microbiome by making some lifestyle modifications and incorporating things like probiotics and prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) into your daily regimen.
Probiotic foods and supplements provide a tremendous benefit to your gut microbiome. Include food such as kefir, sheep or goat’s yogurt, fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi and tofu in your diet as they are a good source of beneficial bacteria.
Lastly, feed your good bacteria with the food it loves, prebiotic fibers! Add food like oats, onions, asparagus, banana, leeks, artichokes and green leafy vegetables in your diet.
Dietitian / Nutritionist
M.Sc. Nutritional Medicine