cereals-yougurt

Did you know that your gut has a huge impact on your general health and well-being way beyond simply digesting your food? The relationship between the gut and health is complex, but much of it is related to the gut bacteria that live there. There are in fact, trillions of bacteria inhabiting the digestive tract, comprising a mixture of beneficial, neutral and harmful bacteria.

To put it simply, the more of the ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria you have and the less of the bad ones, the better the influence they will have on your health. A favourable balance of gut bacteria means you will be more likely to have a strong immune system, be a healthy weight and they may even improve mental well being. Imbalances in gut bacteria on the other hand, have been linked to many health problems including obesity, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, allergies, eczema and infections.

So how do we ensure that we have more of the good guys and less of the bad? Diet of course! Although genes and other factors are believed to play a role, the composition and activity of the gut bacteria is very much influenced by our diet and we can actively improve it by making certain changes to our diet, as outlined below.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeasts) that have beneficial health effects. They are often referred to as ‘friendly’ bacteria, as they help keep the gut healthy. They occur naturally in the body but can also be taken in foods and supplements. They work in two key ways; firstly they can help restore the natural balance of the gut flora after it has been disrupted – after antibiotics for example.  Secondly they help to balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut, by literally pushing the bad guys out.

Prebiotics are carbohydrates or fibres that reach the gut relatively unchanged, as the body cannot digest them. Here they feed the friendly bacteria so that more of them grow and thrive and their numbers therefore increase and outnumber the bad guys.

Prebiotic Effects of Beauty & Go


Beauty & Go drinks contain a special type of fibre, extracted from fruits and vegetables called antioxidant dietary fibre. Antioxidant dietary fibre combines both antioxidant properties and the benefits of dietary fibre, in one substance. It passes into the large intestine undigested where it has a prebiotic effect, feeding and encouraging the good bacteria. In addition, the antioxidants attached to the fibre do their magic here as well, helping to keep the environment of the gut even healthier.

Regular, daily intake of Beauty & Go drinks, over time may therefore contribute to maintaining a healthy gut environment and a favourable balance of gut bacteria.

beauty-and-go

 

Other ways to improve your gut health

Include Probiotic Foods

  • Live Yoghurt – if you do not tolerate dairy well, try sheep’s, soya or coconut yogurt instead
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickles
  • Miso, tempeh, soy sauce, fermented tofu and natto
  • Kombucha – a fermented drink made from tea

Include Prebiotic Foods

  • Tomatoes, asparagus, onions, garlic, artichoke, chicory and bananas are the best sources
  • Beauty & Go drinks

Eat More Fibre

  • Eat plenty of plant based foods including whole-grains, pulses, fruit and vegetables to provide fibre which keeps the gut healthy

Probiotic Supplements

  • Give your levels a boost or top up, either after taking antibiotics (which kill off both good and bad bacteria) or if you have one of the health conditions discussed. Consulting a nutritionist is advisable before taking supplements.
  • People who have used antibiotics, have been eating a poor diet, or have suffered with diarrhoea are more likely to have lower levels of friendly bacteria, as all of these can wipe out the good guys.

abdomen

What the Experts Say

Research has found that the intestinal flora of obese individuals differs to that of thin people and some trials have found that probiotic supplements can support weight loss (1). In a 2013 study, participants taking probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus family lost 4.4kg in 12 weeks, compared to 2.6kg in the placebo group. The probiotic group also continued to lose more weight after the 12 weeks, while weight in the placebo group remained stable.

Probiotics help keep the digestive system healthy and can improve digestion in general as well as helping to alleviate common digestive problems such as IBS, constipation and bloating (2). Supplements have been shown to reduce abdominal bloating and flatulence in some people with IBS, and may also help relieve pain and provide general relief to sufferers. (3)

Probiotics and prebiotics may help people with food allergies and intolerances due to their ability to improve digestion and regulate the immune system (4). Probiotics have also been shown to help with other allergic conditions including hay fever (6). Other conditions that have been studied with beneficial results, include eczema, travellers diarrhoea, thrush and tooth decay.

A recent interesting area of research is into gut bacteria and mental health. It is know that stress has a negative effect on the balance of the gut bacteria (7,8), so scientists are now looking into whether probiotic and prebiotic foods or supplements could benefit mental well being.

So, remember… If you are really into taking care of your health, don’t forget to feed your friendly bacteria!

1. Sanchez M et al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition 2013.
2. Koebnick C, Wagner I, Leitzmann P, Stern U, Zunft HJF. Probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with chronic constipation. Can J Gastroenterol 2003;17:655-9.
3. Moayyedi P1, Ford AC, Talley NJ, Cremonini F, Foxx-Orenstein AE, Brandt LJ, Quigley EM. The efficacy of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Gut. 2010 Mar;59(3):325-32.
4. Kirjavainen PV, Gibson GR. Healthy gut microflora and allergy: factors influencing development of the microbiota. Ann Med 1999;31:288-92 [review].
5. Pelto L, Isolauri E, Lilius EM, et al. Probiotic bacteria down-regulate the milk-induced inflammatory response in milk-hypersensitive subjects but have an immunostimulatory effect in healthy subjects. Clin Exp Allergy 1998;28:1474-9.
6. Xiao JZ, Kondo S, Yanagisawa N, et al. Probiotics in the treatment of Japanese cedar pollinosis: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Clin Exp Allergy 2006;36:1425-35.
7. Huis in ‘t Veld, JH. Gastrointestinal flora and health in man and animal. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd 1991;116:232-9 [review, in Dutch].
8. Moore WE, Cato EP, Holdeman LV. Some current concepts in intestinal bacteriology
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  1. […] healthy colon is populated with billions of bacteria, which are support our health and digestion. When these bacteria become out of balance and harmful […]

  2. […] a special type of dietary fibre called inulin, which has prebiotic properties. Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut, stimulating them to thrive, grow and multiply and giving you the associated health benefits. These […]

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