Maintaining a healthy gut is essential to overall health and wellbeing. Research has shown us that an unhealthy gut can can cause us to suffer from poor immunity, poor digestion and allergies. However, emerging research is linking gut health to many more physical and mental benefits.
The gut microbiome is the vast population organisms that live in our intestines. The gut microbiome is unique to each person and is influenced by age, gender, health status and environment. Probiotics are bacteria which are associated with a healthy gut. Some of the research into benefits of probiotics include:
Digestive health: reducing the effects of antibiotic associated diarrhoea whereby the normal gut microflora is suppressed, allowing pathogenic strains to grow.
Immunity: 60-80% of your entire immune system located in gut. Beneficial microbes partner up with immune cells to keep us healthy.
Allergies: early exposure to bacteria in infancy allows for correct response to allergens in later life.
Other potential health benefits include:
Weight loss: Increasingly, research confirms that probiotics play a key role in weight management. One human study showed how obese individuals reduced their abdominal fat by consuming a probiotic-rich fermented beverage for a 12-week period.
Cancer: specific strains of probiotics may decrease levels of carcinogenic enzymes.
Ageing: The gut microbiome may have an influence in slowing down the ageing process. One particular study in China showed that overall microbiota composition of a healthy elderly group was similar to that of people decades younger, and that the gut microbiota differed little between individuals from the ages of 30 to over 100.
Reduced risk of coronary heart disease due to reduced serum cholesterol.
Mental health: the gut is our second brain! The gut microbiome communicates with the brain via: hormonal signals, the immune system and direct mechanisms. It has also been shown that a shocking 90% of serotonin which influences our mood is produced in the gut. Animal models have also shown you can modify a rodents behaviour by changing its microbiome. ‘Psychobiotics’ are an emerging trend in probiotics which target cognitive function. Probiotics have been shown reduce negative thinking in humans & reduce anxiety in subjects undergoing cancer treatment.
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can obviously have many benefits for both our physical and mental health. Keep an eye on our social media and websites for updates on current research and exciting trends in relation to probiotics!