What have my good bacteria ever done for me?
Barely a day goes by without some new research, dropping into my inbox, investigating the many roles of our gut bacteria in health and wellbeing. There are over 50 trillion bacteria living inside each of us, forming what is referred to as ‘The Microbiome.’ Ongoing research has shown us that, such is the importance of the Microbiome, it is not possible to be a healthy human without healthy gut-flora!
SOME OF THE ROLES OF THE MICROBIOME:
- Helping with weight regulation: Research has shown that naturally thin people have a different biome to those who struggle to lose weight. (1) It would also appear that some bacteria can actually make us crave sugary foods, making it harder to stick to a healthy eating plan. (1)
- Supporting healthy digestion and elimination: Good bacteria play a vital role in the health of the digestive system, helping to reduce wind and bloating as well as supporting healthy bowel function. (2,3)
- A healthy microbiome could prevent food intolerances: Good bacteria help to keep the gut wall healthy, preventing allergens from leaving the intestines. If the gut flora is not balanced correctly, the wall can start to break down, allowing allergens to leave the gut andleading to the development of food intolerances. (4)
- Supporting the immune system: Up to 80% of our immune function is influenced by the gut. Studies have indicated that a reduction in the level of good bacteria can increase the number, and severity, of infections.(4)
- Perfect travel companions: The major fear of every holiday maker is that they could be struck down with ‘holiday tummy’. It has been shown that taking a good bacteria supplement can prevent traveller’s diarrhoea.(5)
ARE SUPPLEMENTS NECESSARY?
Many things in life can influence the Microbiome, and our beneficial bacteria can be killed off by:
- A high sugar diet
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed foods
- The Pill or HRT
- Antibiotics – the negative effects of taking antibiotics on our gut flora can last for up to a year without supplementation.(6)
Considering this, many nutritionists believe that most people could benefit from using a good bacteria supplement to strengthen their microbiome.
As there are over 50 trillion bacteria inside us, if we want to increase the number of good bacteria in our microbiome we need to think about the numbers. Even 1-2 billion is only going to be a drop in the ocean!
Realistically, when looking to make a change to our microbiome, we need to work in high numbers – look for at least 30 billion good bacteria per capsule. Those with food intolerances, or who have used strong antibiotics, could even benefit from using up to 100 billion good bacteria per day.
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.)
- C Menni et al; Gut microbiome diversity and high-fibre intake are related to lower long-term weight gain; International Journal of Obesity (2017) 41, 1099
- Sridevi Devaraj; The Human Gut Microbiome and Body Metabolism: Implications for Obesity and Diabetes; Clin Chem. 2013 Apr; 59(4): 617–628.
- Sridevi Devaraj, Gut microbiota role in irritable bowel syndrome: New therapeutic strategies; World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Feb
- G Vighi, et al; Allergy and the gastrointestinal system; Clin Exp Immunol. 2008
- Meta-Analysis of probiotics for the prevention of travellers’ diarrhoea McFarlan LV Travel Med Infect Dis 2007
- Egija Zaura et al; Same exposure but Two Radically Different Responses to Antibiotics; Mbio Dec 2015