BODY AND SOUL


Support The Bacteria That Supports You!





There are trillions of bacteria – both good and bad- that lives on and inside of us, mostly inhabiting our intestines and they are collectively known as our gut microbiome. This gut microbiome is a rich ecosystem which performs variety of functions in our body such as breaking down the food that body can’t digest, produce important nutrients, regulate the immune system, and protect us against harmful germs. The diversity of bacteria in our gut is important in maintaining our digestive health because the more species of bacteria that live inside you, the more health benefits that they may be able to contribute to. Our gut microbiome is affected by several factors such as environment, medications, and also our diet and although we can’t control all these factors, we can manipulate the balance of our gut microbiome by paying attention to our diet.



How does the food we eat affect our gut health?


Similar to human, the bacteria in our body needs fuel to do their work. This fuel is called prebiotics. Foods that contain dietary fiber like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains are the best fuel for our gut bacteria. Upon digesting this fiber, the bacteria in our gut will produce short-chain fatty acids that nourish our gut barrier, improve immune system, and can help in preventing inflammation. And the more fiber you consume, the higher the amount of this fiber-digesting bacteria that will colonise your gut. Inversely, if your diet is lack of dietary fiber, the bacteria in your gut has less fuel and they will starve, die off or some may even start to feed on your mucus lining. And this may gradually result in adverse effects to your body.



The food that you eat affects the type of bacteria that lives inside you!


It’s true that the food that you eat can actually affect what type of bacteria that lives inside you.


Here are some of the factors:

  1. Preparation of food
    Minimally processed foods, like raw vegetables, generally contain more fiber and provides better fuel than highly-processed foods, like french fries and therefore will subsequently increase the amount of bacterial diversity in our gut.
  2. Fermented food
    Fermentation is also another way to introduce good bacteria (also known as probiotics) into our gut. Some fermented foods which include tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, and yoghurt are loaded with good probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria that benefits our gut.
  3. Probiotic drink and supplement
    Another way to introduce probiotics into our body is by the consumption of probiotic drinks and supplements.

These probiotics are beneficial in reducing the symptoms of certain digestive disorders, diarrhea, and to boost our immune system.


To simplify, probiotics are the good bacteria and prebiotics are the “food” to feed those good bacteria and we need both of them for the maintenance of a healthy gut. So, fill up with a balance of fiber, fresh, fermented foods, and probiotic-enriched foods and supplements and healthy gut is on its way!




References:


TED-Ed (2017). How the food you eat affects your gut. [video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sISguPDlhY [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].


Robertson, R. (2016). 10 Ways to Improve Your Gut Bacteria, Based on Science. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/improve-gut-bacteria#section9 [Accessed 21 Jan. 2018].


Brown, M. (2018). 8 Health Benefits of Probiotics. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-health-benefits-of-probiotics [Accessed 7 Feb. 2018].

^ Back to Top