Who lives in your gut? Find out how to feed the beneficial bacteria...
A healthy composition and variety of intestinal bacteria is essential for healthy gut function. This in turn will improve the health of your entire mind and body. Your good guys need feeding.
The large intestine is the most diversely colonised area of the gastro -intestinal tract. The colon alone contains up to 1000 different bacterial species. These bacteria need specific carbohydrates that are indigestible in the upper small intestine so they get all the way to the large bowel bacteria.
Your number one choice will be the foods you eat. However some people’s gut function and microbial diversity is so poor that they need extra TLC (tender loving care – not a tablet!). So here are a few thoughts:
Non digestible carbohydrates are classified as prebiotics when they:
• Resist stomach acid and digestive enzymes
• Selectively stimulate the growth and / or activity of gastrointestinal bacteria.
Most bacteria in the large intestine need prebiotics for their growth and energy production. They then make Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) that improve bowel acidity, movement and immune function. Research shows increased numbers of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifido-bacteria as a result of taking prebiotics.
Partially hydrolysed guar gum is an increasingly popular and well tolerated prebiotic oligosaccharide. It is water soluble dietary fibre made by processing the long carbohydrate chains of guar gum. This is generally a second step in my gut repair program and PHGG is my number one choice for most people. It is important that prebiotics are introduced slowly or you risk increased bloating if lots of “bad” bacteria are still around and they get into the ‘feeding queue’ first.
Food choices are an important part of feeding your beneficial bacteria. A food and symptom diary will help you and I work out which ones are well tolerated:
FOS and Inulin
Chicory root, Garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, Leek, Onion, Dandelion greens, Asparagus, Banana
Potato, roasted or steamed, then cooled, Bananas, Cashew nuts, White beans, Lentils cooked
Flax seeds, Vegetables, Fruit, Whole grains
Blueberries, Strawberries, Peach, Plum, Grape seed extract, Resveratrol, Tea, Chocolate
There is plenty that can be done to help treat symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn or reflux. A comprehensive structured program includes appropriate testing, dietary advice and supplements. Prebiotics help nourish and support beneficial bacteria and are a frequent component of this process.
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