The guts of the matter…

June 16, 2014

Did you know that around 75% of your immune system is in your gut? That it´s thought to make more immune decisions in a day than the rest of you makes in a lifetime? Did you know that your gut is responsible for the majority of your body’s feel good hormone, serotonin? So if your gut isn’t in tip top shape, your moods, digestion and many other things may not be either…

I had the pleasure last weekend of attending The International Congress on Natural Medicine and it blew my mind (just to put it lightly!). I heard from some of the world leaders in my field, leaders who shared many brilliant insight into all things ‘gut’ and ‘detoxification’ related.

Our gut – essentially the hollow tube starting at our mouth and ending at, well, the other end – contains hundreds, if not thousands of strains of different bacteria. Collectively, this is referred to as our ‘microbiome’.

Our microbiome is critical to our immune health. It contains up to 100 trillion cells (something else that blows my mind!) and has up to 1500 different species of bacteria residing there!

The bulk of our microbiome, which is thought to remain relatively stable throughout life, is believed to develop by around the age of 3, possibly 4 years of age. Things that disrupt the natural ‘ecology’ / terrain / balance’ of this can, amongst other things, include caesarean births, antibiotics, stress, poor diet, toxins (including environmental). If having experienced any of these, consider supplementing with a good quality, strain specific probiotic. Being thought to remain ‘relatively’ stable throughout life, shows promise for supplementing children & babies early on to help to confer life long health benefits. Of course, treatment can help to shift the guts ‘ecology / terrain / balance’ at any stage of life, so adults with weakened or unbalanced microbiomes need not fear – positive change can be influenced with the correct treatment.

Probiotics are the ‘good bacteria’ that reside in our bodies. With so many of them making up each of us, you could ask yourself the question ‘do we carry these bugs around, or do they, in fact, carry us!?’ – an interesting point brought up at the conference I attended!

To ensure you are getting the most benefit out of supplementation, always ensure that the ‘strain’ of bacteria is shown on the bottle, as health benefits are strain specific. The probiotic strain and dosage should always be matched to the condition for which clinical trials have shown benefit – a very good reason to always discuss your needs with a qualified health practitioner like a naturopath! 🙂

Always consider ‘who’ you are supplementing too. Babies, for instance, require ‘baby versions. There are many good quality ones on the market. For babies, the probiotic powder can be placed into the babies bottle, or if breastfeeding, can be applied directly onto the nipple just before the baby latches on.

Some of the benefits of good bacteria / probiotics include:

– Pathogen inhibition (they produce antimicrobial compounds and compete with pathogens.. kinda like a war between good and evil helping to keep our guts good rather than evil!)

– They enhance the health promoting mucous layer that lines our entire gut

– They increase antibody production to enhance our immune responses

– Their metabolites can help to reduce intestinal inflammation

Numerous studies and research papers have been done on probiotics. Some of the findings include reductions in both upper respiratory tract infections as well as gastrointestinal infections.

Probiotic foods include brined olives, salted gherkins, sauerkraut (a yummy, great quality brand I love is called “Peace, Love & Vegetables” available in good health food shops), kimchi, miso & tempeh.

So where do I get good quality probiotics from you ask?! Why Saltuary, of course! Where do I find myself a naturopath to help with all my questions on probiotics? * Please see the previous answer! 🙂

It really is important to always speak with a qualified health practitioner (not just Dr Google!) before beginning any form of supplementation. It is a case of paying for what you get with these things too, so at Saltuary, we only stock ‘practitioner only’ brands of probiotics.

Happy days all… tiina xx

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