How To Boost Your Microbiome
27th May, 2021
There is nothing like getting the best value for your dollar, right? Beneficial bacteria (and prebiotics) have that type of value.
Whilst, many may assume that good bacteria (which are live microorganisms that live in harmony with their host) are only located in our digestive system and may only help with gut health. There are, in fact trillions which live within and on us as humans.
It is now known that probiotics are not only important for our gut health, but for our whole body and organ systems from our immune system to our brain. Their role is truly unbelievable and extensive.
So, if you want the best value for the biggest impact, why not try probiotics!
How can we find them?
Beneficial bacteria, also known as friendly or good bacteria are microscopically tiny. It is thought that our digestive system may contain over a 1000 species of beneficial bacteria and the microbiome can weigh up to 2kgs.
A microbiome is an ecosystem within our body where our good bacteria live. A microbiome environment is an evolving and changing ecosystem, which many factors affect it to change. These may include: medication, illness, diet, surgery, chronic inflammation, mental health, stress and aging.
As we grow and age our good bacteria change within us. We know that we have our own unique blend of beneficial bacterial species, which is unique to each of us, but the volume and new ones may come and go. Your unique beneficial bacterial make up is like your own finger print, special to you.
We can consume many types of bacterium and viruses on a daily basis. Some of these types of microorganisms may be of help to us, whilst others are a hindrance.
What are the best food sources of beneficial bacteria?
Beneficial microorganisms can be found in many food types and they can be eaten on a daily basis to help increase or support your own beneficial bacterial colony.
Many countries around the world have their own fermented foods types. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics and can be found in foods such as: yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, natto, amazake, tempeh, apple cider vinegar to name a few.
Whether, you include a small amount occasionally or eat these types of foods daily, you will be aiding your beneficial bacteria and its microbiome.
Super boost your Microbiome
Whilst fermented food products are traditionally the best way to get your daily dose. Let’s look at other food items which are newbies on the block!
Probiotic Tea and coffee– These have been developed by the University of Singapore using special strains in the right environment to help them flourish and decrease their susceptibility heat damage. Food manufacturing companies are now using patented probiotic strains, which are added to the end of the manufacturing process.
As tea is often drunk hot, these special patented probiotic strains are heat resistant and stable.
Snack foods with probiotics- Food manufacturers are getting on the probiotic brand wagon. Whilst the amount of probiotic may vary somewhat, they are using a special strain, which can withstand commercial processing, heat and the addition of high sugars which may destroy natural beneficial bacteria content. We can see this emerging market in muesli bars, crackers, chocolate, cereals and “healthy” crisp.
Remember, these items may have added probiotics but what about the unhealthy processed oils and sugar content that goes into making these snack foods?
Kombucha- this is a classic probiotic “tea”. Traditionally known as a fermented tea and often drunk cold, it is a slightly fizzy and sour drink with an acquired taste.
Looking at the whole picture
We know that probiotics are important, but there is a bigger picture to consider. We must look at the environment in which they live in, the microbiome.
Probiotics flourish in a healthy and vibrant microbiome. Again, including certain foods that can help our probiotic colony to stay around and benefit the rest of our body. Prebiotics are the missing link to having healthy gut flora and keeping the microbiome in good working order.
Prebiotic foods include different types of fibres such as soluble and insoluble fibre. These prebiotics slowly break down and ferment their way along the digestive tract as they nourish the microbiome.
They contain special fibre structures such as: inulin, fructooligosaccarides (FOS), beta glucan, arabinoxlyin oligosaccride (AXOS) and pectin to name a few.
These prebiotics are found in foods such as: apples, watermelon, garlic, leeks, asparagus, chickpeas and other legumes, grapefruit, almonds, Slippery elm powder, wheat bran, oats and psyllium husks… the list can go on.
Primarily, fruits, vegetables, herbs, some nuts and wholegrains are important for the microbiome and our friendly probiotics to thrive.
Keeping it real!
Stick with what you know and what you like. You may not like every fermented type of food out there, but find one you do like. If you really can’t stomach any of them, then consider taking a probiotic in a capsule or powder. Get one with strains that are suited to your health needs, whether it be your current health status or perhaps your age.
So, what is the verdict? Do you need to take a probiotic all the time?
To be honest, it depends on your circumstances. The answer may be yes, if you are unwell, have a complex health history, poor diet or a family history of poor health. You may wish to just look at some food sources that contain probiotics and prebiotics.
It’s always best to start to look at what you feed your body. Diet and nutrition are always important, remember to start slowly by introducing one or two types of foods first.
Or perhaps, you are fit and well with no health issues. Then maybe taking a probiotic once or twice a year, or perhaps you already include beneficial bacteria containing foods into your daily diet.
These microscopic friendly bacteria just may be your missing link to better health and wellness.