The Role of the Microbiome
This month, we're discussing the microbiome.
Hippocrates said: “All disease begins in the gut”.
Modern day research appears to be showing just how right he was. However, it is not the health of the gut itself that has such an impact - but rather the 50 trillion bacteria that make their home there, forming what is often referred to as ‘The Microbiome.’
There are over 1000 distinct species living with the Microbiome, and each can have an impact on our health. And the balance of the bacteria within our Microbiome does not simply affect digestion and elimination, it also impacts brain health, mood and skin health.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MICROBIOME:
It is unsurprising that the bacteria which reside in our gut have an important role to play in digestion and elimination. What many people don’t realise though, is just how vital they are:
- Our good bacteria synthesise biotin and folic acid
- They assist with the absorption of vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and iron
- They are involved in the utilisation of lipids and fatty acids
- Good bacteria aid digestion of carbohydrates, breaking down otherwise indigestible fibre, starches & sugars
- Friendly bacteria keep unfriendly bacteria and pathogens in check, helping to prevent illness and infection and limiting our susceptibility to food poisoning
- These bacteria are also vital in the maintenance of the integrity of the gut wall, helping to prevent the development of food allergies and intolerances
An imbalance in our gut flora will therefore have an impact on our digestion, our immunity to infections and our susceptibility to food poisoning and intolerances.
CHOOSING A GOOD BACTERIA SUPPLEMENT
When choosing a good bacteria supplement, there are certain considerations to keep in mind:
1. Strength – There are at least 50 trillion good bacteria in the gut, so a supplement of 1-2 billion is really a drop in the ocean. Look for something closer to 30 billion if you want to make a difference.
2. Strains – check labels, a good broad-spectrum supplement should contain around 8 different strains. You may also want to ensure that certain strains are present in a formulation, as they all have a specific job to do.
GOOD BACTERIA & ANTIBIOTICS
Antibiotics are helpful when we are ill, however it is known that, in addition to killing off the bad bacteria which are making us poorly, they also kill off the vital good bacteria.
The negative impact on the microbiome after taking antibiotics can last for over a year, and can lead to low immunity and recurrent infections.
GOOD BACTERIA TO LOOK OUT FOR
- L. acidophilus and L. casei are a great combination, as they help to create an environment which encourages the growth of other good bacteria.
- L. plantarum is also important, as it is said to help prevent and heal leaky gut issues.
- B. bifidus and L. reuteri have been linked with supporting a healthy immune response.
- B. lactis and S. thermophilus have been found to help improve digestive comfort.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in health foods stores and private clinics for over 20 years)
Look out for my next blog, where I will be discussing how changes in the gut flora have been linked to changes in behaviour.