By now we all know that our gut health is a significant contributor to our overall wellbeing. But do you know exactly why?
Your gut lining is filled with microscopic organisms – mostly bacteria – which make up its ecosystem, known as the microbiome, of your gut. The health and makeup of your microbiome can either improve or adversely affect your health.
In order to keep your microbiome balanced and well-nourished with good bacteria, you need to feed it prebiotics and additional living microbes, like probiotics.
Prebiotics are plant fibres that can be found in many fruits and vegetables. For example, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, oats and cocoa. All these foods stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Probiotics contain live organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria that add to the population of healthy microbes in the gut. Like prebiotics, probiotics are found in both food and supplement forms. Yoghurt is the most common probiotic-containing food, made by fermenting milk with different bacteria left in the final product. Sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi are also fermented with bacteria, and are good sources of probiotics.
Once your microbiome is balanced and filled with healthy bacteria, you can expect to experience the following benefits:
- Improved digestion
The bacteria in the gut can help the body to fully digest and use the energy and nutrients from complex carbohydrates and proteins. This is also beneficial for regular bowel movements, and can help to prevent symptoms of cramping, constipation and/or diarrhoea.
- Enhanced immunity and reduced inflammation
A healthy gut microbiome is the first line of defence against ingested pathogens. The healthy bacteria compete against pathogens for nutrients and secrete antimicrobial compounds. This supports the immune system by making it difficult for pathogens to populate.
- Better bone health
Certain bacteria found in a healthy gut microbiome can help increase the absorption of calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health.