Gut Health


Properly Fermented Foods play a critical role in restoring gut barrier integrity. Our gut health has become compromised, due to an excessive use of microbe-killing antibiotics and toxic chemicals.

How do we restore gut barrier integrity?

There are 3 ways that this can achieved:

  • Learn the art of wild fermentation; adding salt to vegetables, allowing them to preserve in a controlled manner which produces lactic acid that contains a variety of bacterial strains that are highly beneficial to us. Our resident Chef Michael will help you learn the art of wild fermentation, particularly the art of making cultured organic veggies by using the naturally present bacteria found on organic vegetables!
  • Learn the art of fermenting using properly prepared starter cultures. Order properly prepared starter cultures from Green Living Australia, or attend an upcoming workshop at Bee Sustainable in Melbourne to learn the art of using starter cultures to make yoghurts, cheeses and sourdough breads!
  • In the context of dealing with specific ailments and diseases, probiotic formulations, that are pharmaceutical grade, may be obtained from your health practitioner or local pharmacist. Bioceutical's range of probiotics is one of the best currently on the market.
  • Probiotics
  • Prebiotics
  • What are Probiotics?

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Yes, they are actually alive, and most of these microorganisms are bacteria.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the "bad" bacteria is necessary for optimal health. Things like medications, diet, diseases, and your environment can upset that balance.

  • What is the gut?

Research has shown that the network of neurones lining our guts is so extensive that is has now been nicknamed our "second brain" or "other brain”. Its role is to manage every aspect of digestion in all the organs of the gastrointestinal tract, including the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon.

Within your gastrointestinal tract, there is intestinal microflora or microbiota. This complex ecosystem contains over 400 bacterial species, the majority is found in your colon. The intestinal microflora aid in digestion, synthesise vitamins and nutrients, metabolise some medications, support the development and functioning of the gut and enhance the immune system.

When the balance in the intestinal microflora shifts to more bad than good bacteria, certain conditions arise such as diarrhoea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, fatigue, allergies and more serious conditions may be triggered such as auto-immune diseases.

  • What are the different types of probiotics

Probiotic products contain bacteria and/or yeasts that assist in restoring the balance in our gut.

There are several different kinds of probiotics, and their health benefits are determined by the job that they do in your gut. Probiotics must be identified by their genus, species, and strain level.

Here is a list of probiotics and their possible health benefits.

1. Lactobacillus

Lactobacilli are naturally found in the digestive, urinary, and genital systems. Foods that are fermented, like yogurt and kefir also contain these bacteria. Lactobacillus has been used for treating and preventing a wide variety of diseases and conditions.

Within the Lactobacillus genus, there are over 180 known species of lactobacillus. Some of these species include:

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus,
  • Lactobacillus blugaricus,
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus casei

Within each of these species, take L. acidophilus for example, there are many, many different strains e.g L. acidophilus LA1 is one strain and  L. acidophilus DDS-1 is another.

More research is needed regarding probiotics and their potential health benefits before any definitive claims can be made about their effects. However, studies have shown some benefits linked to Lactobacillus and treating and/or preventing yeast infections, urinary tract infection, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrohea related conditions, treating lactose intolerance, skin disorders (fever blisters, eczema, acne, and canker sores), and prevention of respiratory infections.

2. Bifidobacteria

There are approximately 30 species of bifidobacteria. They make up most of the healthy bacteria in the colon. They appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth, especially in breastfed infants.

Some of the species of bifidobacteria used as probiotics are:

  • Bifodbacterium bifidum, 
  • Bifodbacterium lactis, 
  • Bifodbacterium longum. 

As with all probiotics, more research is needed to prove a definitive benefit, but studies have shown that bifidobacteria can help with IBS, dental cavities, improved blood lipids, and glucose tolerance.

3. Saccharomyces boulardii

This is also known as S. boulardii and is the only yeast probiotic. Some studies have shown that it is effective in preventing and treating diarrhoea associated with the use of antibiotics and traveller’s diarrhoea.

4. Streptococcus thermophilus

This produces large quantities of the enzyme lactase, making it effective, according to some reports, in the prevention of lactose intolerance.

  • How should you take probiotics?

Your native gut flora, the flora that has been present since birth, is strain specific. The only way to directly influence the level of your specific strain of gut flora is to take the same exact strain probiotic – L. acidophilus (insert your STRAIN). The problem is that we are not yet able to test your specific strain and customise a probiotic blend that is specific to your native gut flora. We are simply not there yet.

However:

Many strains of probiotics have been shown time and time again to have a positive effect on health, irrespective of the fact that we are yet to match specific strains with our own individual gut microflora.

Whether it is eating wild fermented foods, fermented foods prepared with starter cultures or taking pharmaceutical-grade probiotics, you are on the way to restoring gut barrier integrity.

Further Reading:

The Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research

Prebiotics are food for probiotics. Prebiotics are found in asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, chicory, onions, beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Inulin and oligosaccharides are two well-established prebiotics. They are increasingly being added to processed foods as a replacement for fat or sugar, to increase the dietary fibre and to stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria. Emerging evidence suggests that prebiotics may reduce constipation and diarrhoea, increase calcium absorption, boost the immune system, reduce harmful bacteria and possibly even reduce blood cholesterol and the risk of colon cancer.

Further Reading:

Importance of Prebiotics