The benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics
Why Elevate our Gut Microbiome?
‘Gut instinct’…‘Go with your gut’…words often spoken with more meaning than we may realise but support the scientific theory that our gut is our ‘second brain’.
Housed in our gut are trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes, known collectively as the ‘microbiome’ or ‘flora’, that directly communicate with our brain along the gut-brain axis, also known as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the primary nerve within the parasympathetic nervous system which, through various pathways, is responsible for a vast array of bodily processes including control of our mood and behaviour, breathing and heart rate, appetite and immune response.
There is a plethora of scientific research into the gut microbiome that although in its infancy is already going some way to support the theory of Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, that ‘all disease begins in the gut’. It may have not yet been determined to be the cause of all disease, but via a number of fascinating mechanisms a diverse and resilient gut microbiome has been shown to support not only our emotional wellbeing but our body’s overall health through areas including:
- inflammatory balance, by increasing antioxidant production and reducing oxidative stress
- hormonal balance
- vitamin absorption and amino acid production - crucial for protein synthesis, and
- immune defence, by supplying short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) required for white blood cell production.
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of a strong immune system; it has also impacted the mental health of many. With almost 70% of our immune system determined to be housed in the gut and at least 90% of the body’s ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter serotonin being made by the gut microbiome, never has there been more reason for the focus on gut health to be a priority. A link has also been discovered between gut microbiota and optimal oestrogen metabolism which in turn can help menopausal health.
Like our fingerprints, the make-up of our gut microbiome is unique to us, influenced by genetics, our environment and our daily lifestyle. It is well documented that antibiotics can kill ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ bacteria and enable an overgrowth of unwanted yeast called ‘Candida,’ but how do we proactively replenish and maintain the inner balance of our gut microbiome given the negative influences of environmental toxins and busy lifestyles such as lack of movement, chronic stress, poor sleep and a diet of highly processed food?
We are what we eat – Drinking lots of water and eating a varied, vibrant seasonal diet is the most effective way in continually enabling the body to be a happy home to a diverse and resilient microbiome. Prebiotics and probiotics each play a key role in enabling beneficial microbes to flourish and thrive, but what is the difference?
Plenty of fibre from fruit and vegetables, such as olive oil, garlic, onions, chicory, legumes, asparagus, berries and oats, is essential to nourish and promote the growth of the microbiome; it’s food for our flora. Prebiotics, such as inulin, are fibres from plants, non-digestible by human digestive enzymes, that healthy gut bacteria feed on, with anti-inflammatory SCFAs being produced as a metabolite which also help maintain the gut lining. Deprived of fibre our gut bacteria have been found to make lipopolysaccharides (LPS) which can leak into the bloodstream, induce inflammation and cause symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue, digestive issues and blood sugar imbalance - with the problems that can bring. Organic baobab and organic moringa leaf extract are examples of naturally sourced broad-spectrum prebiotics that have been formulated within key supplements within our range, supporting optimum gut health.
Probiotics are found in cultured dairy products, *fermented food and drink, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar and kombucha, or supplements that contain specific strains of beneficial live bacteria. With the vast array of probiotic supplements available and different strains being found to be beneficial to microbiomes within key sites of the body how do we navigate the difference? It is advised that each species contain at least one billion colony forming units (CFUs), are processed to survive specific storage temperatures and can withstand the acid environment of the stomach and not just pass through the digestive system! Each daily dose of Gut Love contains 19 billion CFUs which can be stored at room temperature and are cryoprotected during the freeze drying process which mean they are protected from our stomach acid and are therefore able to colonise the full length of the gastrointestinal tract. Although a great supportive supplement for general gut health, also easing and regulating bowel movement, it is a formulation of 19 strains of live bacteria that can help restore and harmonise the ‘good’ gut bugs when antibiotics are prescribed or can be taken to help prevent travel related digestive upset.
It’s perfectly safe to take a prebiotic and probiotic at the same time to help feed and energise your gut microbiome but for further information we have a team of pharmacists who are available to offer any specific advice.
So glow from within. With more research on the horizon and studies linking proactive gut health with radiant skin, improving our energy levels and vitality, supporting our mental health and helping prevent chronic illness and metabolic and inflammatory diseases such as dementia, this gives us all some food for thought.