When I first began studying nutrition in 2009 there was pretty much no mention of gut health. I took the deep dive into nutrition to try and help my own health and in particular my mental health.
Since then a lot has changed and most of us now know that to maintain good health, the gut must properly absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and toxins on a daily basis. So, it’s not so much what you eat but rather what you absorb that counts. A few years ago, most of us didn’t even know what the word microbiome meant.
The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. What we are interested though for this article is the gut microbiome.
The Real Control Center
Just think of where your gut is located – the center of your body – and this is also the hub or headquarters where your immunity, brain function, metabolism and weight are controlled from. Roughly 70% of our immune cells and more than 90% of your serotonin (which is your “feel good” or “happy” hormone) is stored in your gut as well.
So who do we want operating our headquarters?
Well the good guys of course! There are more bacteria in your digestive system than there are cells in your body approx. 4Lbs! This 4Lb strong community if left un-policed will go rouge and the bad guys will start to take over. These are the bad gut bacteria that cause various digestive health issues alongside contributing to a wide variety of other dis-eases’ within your body and mind. Repopulating with good bacteria (probiotics) is a vital way to keep inflammation under control. I have teamed up with www.precisionbiotics.com for this article, who make Alforex and Zenflore to help ensure a healthy gut whether stressed, recovering from illness or trying to cope with common problems like IBS Irritable bowel syndrome.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially your digestive system.
First Lets Take A look At What harms Our Gut
Our modern lifestyle certainly has a lot to answer for including
- A Bad Diet/Fast Food/Processed Food
- Stress – The busyness epidemic
- Hormone Problems
- Autoimmune problems caused by Leaky Gut
Some Symptoms of Imbalance
- Skin issues: Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis, Rashes
- Food allergies/sensitivities
- Sleep problems
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia
- Mental fogginess
- Mood changes
- Autoimmune Diseases (lupus, MS, arthritis, etc.)
- Food cravings
- Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea
- Cramping after meals
So What Can We Do?
We need to ensure we hire the best to work in our headquarters. These generals include fermented foods which provide probiotics, vitamins and enzymes that help keep your digestive system healthy and free of illness and disease and drink like Kefir and Kombucha are great.
Kefir is a cultured/ fermented drink that you can make in both Milk and water varieties. Kombucha is fermented tea, both have been shown to be beneficial for the gut to promote good gut health with their bacteria strains.
LOTS OF FRESH WHOLEFOODS, FRUIT AND VEGETABLES INCREASE ESSENTIAL FIBRE TO HELP KEEP THE DIGESTIVE OPERATION WORKING WELL
You can also eat miso soup, sauerkraut and Kimchi. In countries like Korea and Japan they have fermented foods with every meal. Tempeh (fermented tofu cake), Tofu (which is sometimes fermented), Naturally fermented soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and coconut yogurt are also great to add into your daily diet.
Choosing A Supplement
Sometimes though food is not enough. With modern life causing us to feel stressed and become ill at times calling in extra reinforcements in the form of a supplement can be necessary.
I was recently quite ill back in August and had to take antibiotics for a couple of weeks. Being acutely aware that most of my good bacteria were now pretty much wiped out, I knew I needed to repopulate. I was also quite stressed and feeling low so I was looking for a supplement to directly help with the gut/brain connection. I took Zenflore initially for a month and I am currently taking Alforex now to help deal with other digestive issues.
Zenflore is a food supplement developed to help tackle Ireland’s stress epidemic. Created by a group of scientists at Precision Biotics, based in Cork, it has been clinically proven to reduce stress. The new treatment was developed after scientists identified a key component in the gut-brain axis , showing that what happens in the stomach can have a direct effect on the human brain. The special 1714-Serenitas™ culture in Zenflore has been clinically studied in people with everyday stress. PrecisionBiotics have developed a unique formulation with this natural culture and specially selected B vitamins, to help support mind and body, and reduces fatigue.
1714-Serenitas was discovered and developed by PrecisionBiotics®, in partnership with scientists and clinicians from one of the world’s leading centers of research on the microbiome and the gut-brain axis. This unique culture is part of the Bifidobacteria family of bacteria given by mother to baby at birth. It’s a friendly bacteria, that is naturally at home in the human gut and has evolved with us over generations.
Does It Reach The Gut Intact?
This is one of the most common questions people ask. Zenflore’s special formulation is stable at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated and this ensures that this natural culture reaches your gut with its properties intact.
Zenflore is available in pharmacies and health food shops nationwide for €32.95 for a month supply.
Another supplement that PrecisionBiotics manufacture is Alflorex, which is a gut health-boosting probiotic supplement that has been shown to help with IBS. First discovered in Cork, this culture has been demonstrated to be safe and effective in several published studies in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); which is a condition estimated to affect between 10 – 15% of Irish adults. Females are twice as likely to be affected as males.
IBS is a complex and debilitating condition for which there is no known cause. However, many doctors now agree that symptoms can be triggered by psychological as well as physical factors. Conventional management of IBS is often suboptimal often addressing only one of the several symptoms that comprise the syndrome.
In studies in IBS patients, B. infantis 35624 has been shown to improve all of the cardinal symptoms of the condition. This is one of the few probiotic products which has been truly developed on a scientific basis and tested in high quality clinical studies.
Containing its 35624 culture, it’s been clinically tested in people with bloating and gas, abdominal pain and unpredictable bowel movements. Improvements can be seen in as little as four weeks and those who suffer from non-IBS bloating could also reap rewards too.
“IBS affects 20,000 people in Ireland.”
It was awarded Best Gastrointestinal Product at the Irish Pharmacy News Awards 2016 and 2017
Alflorex is available over the counter from pharmacies nationwide at €32.95 for one month’s supply of the daily capsule.
When it comes to good health its now more important than ever to look at gut health. If science and studies now show us that our gut is the headquarters we need to go straight there and work from the top down.
By changing different aspects of how you live, you and your gut can become lifelong friends. If you treat your gut well then it will repay you with great health, energy and vitality for life.
Start your day with a deep inhalation and set an intention to nourish yourself with great food, kind words, fresh air, exercise and great people. That’s the key to a more fulfilled life and your will also thank you.