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The “Gut bacteria, collectively referred to as the gut flora or gut microbiota, perform many important functions in the body and require ‘Good Bacteria’ to function optimally to prevent disease and maintain good health.
The gut is often also referred to as the ‘Second Brain’ or technically known as the enteric nervous system, consisting of sheaths of neurons embedded within the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. With these multitude of neurons, it enables us to “feel” the inner state of our gut and its contents and in turn influence daily digestion with break down of foods, absorption of nutrients, expelling of wastes, chemical processing and rhythmic muscle contractions, whilst adversely effecting mood, energy, skin and wellbeing.
Probiotics to date, have been the most highlight topic when looking to improve gut health, however researchers have found that Prebiotics are becoming extremely helpful in increasing the ‘good bacteria’ currently residing in your gut that reduces the risk of disease and improve general wellbeing. They work to feed and nourish the community of trillions of bacteria that live within your gut, which support immunity, digestive health, weight management and skin health. Prebiotic fibre is found to be more stable then Probiotics as they are not as easily affected by heat, stomach acids or shelf time. Even though they sound similar, the two play different roles for your health. Supplementing with both is recommended as probiotic bacteria in supplements are only deemed effective if they are alive.
Prebiotics have benefits far beyond the positive effects on digestive flora. These in a nutshell are un-digestible plant fibres that live inside the large intestine. The more food or ‘prebiotic fibre’ that probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut flora will become. So consuming prebiotics alone can often help digestion, because they feed, nourish and increase probiotic bacteria. Prebiotics can also protect and assist against early onset of colon cancer, may be beneficial in lowering triglycerides, regulate blood sugars and may help in reducing appetite, increasing satiety, thereby decreasing the amount of energy consumed.
Good sources of Prebiotics:
Supplements: Australian Natural Doctors Wellbeing Formula
Food Sources: Raw Chicory Root, Raw Artichoke, Raw Garlic, Raw Leek, Raw and cooked Onion, Raw Asparagus
*RDI 5grams fibre per day
Probiotics work, not only to improve digestive function by balancing intestinal microflora and assist with the production and absorption of vitamins and minerals, but also are effective at preventing infections and yeast overgrowth by blocking harmful bacteria from attaching to intestinal walls and by maintaining intestinal pH. They are also immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory.
What to look for when sourcing a good Probiotic:
Make sure they contain at least 8 different strains of bacteria including the standard Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and in the billions not millions. Most will need to be kept refrigerated and out of the heat for the bacteria to survive and be effective at supporting the microbes in the gut. These live bacteria can also be naturally found in foods such as kimchi and yogurt. *For a food item to be considered a probiotic, the bacteria cultures within must be alive and stable during processing and throughout shelf life.
Supplements: Practitioner only – Bioceuticals Probiotic
Food Sources: Yoghurt, cheese, kefir, sour cream and kimchi.