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Probiotics found in probiotic supplements, yogurt, and other fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut, are microscopic helpers that impact us in a big way when it comes to our health.

A recent Yahoo article, “Probiotics: More Than Your Tummy’s BFF..,” called out some of the important advantages to maintaining a healthy balance of digestive bacteria—supported by probiotics. Your gut is filled with trillions of bacterial cells, and probiotics help boost the amount of healthy bacterial cells there. These healthy bacteria promote healthy gut balance as well as produce vitamins, help digest your food, promote your immune health, and help keep your bowel and digestive tract ticking along nicely.

Dysbiosis and Your Gut
An imbalance of healthy bacteria in the gut is known as dysbiosis, a condition you may not know you have until its uncomfortable signs crop up. The signs of dysbiosis include:

  • Gas, bloating, and flatulence, especially around meal time
  • Occasional and unexplained constipation or digestive upsets
  • Skin issues such as itchy, dry skin or breakouts
  • Poor nutrient absorption and irregular digestion
  • Yeast imbalance

Boosting your levels of healthy bacteria through probiotic intake supports an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Did you know?
The lining of your gut (GALT) is often called your “second brain,” and the bacteria in it are as important as brain cells in keeping you healthy. The gut associated lymphatic tissue (GALT) is your primary line of defense in the digestive tract; it also produces 90 percent of the body’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.

The GALT is also heavily reliant on the beneficial gut bacteria to do its job. These beneficial bacteria, which include probiotics, promote important immune cell function and help create a healthy gut barrier. So, keep your probiotic intake high, avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, and eat a whole-foods rich diet to feed your gut, and whole body, healthy!

Source: “Probiotics, More Than Your Tummy’s BFF…” Yahoo Shine, July 2013.

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Diet and the Gut

The human gut is home to thousands of different bacterial species, totaling 100 trillion bacterial cells—that’s about four pounds of bacteria, or the weight of a brick. The composition of this bacterial population (also known as the gut microbiota), is currently being studied.

A new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, published in Science, takes the findings further. This new study found two major gut types—Bacteroides and Prevotella—based on gut bacterial population groups in 98 healthy volunteers who were asked to fill out questionnaires that assessed dietary habits. Stool samples were collected to determine their gut microbiota composition.

The researchers found a link between dietary habits and gut types. People who ate a diet high in meat and saturated fat were higher in Bacteroides bacteria, and people who had a diet high in carbohydrates had more Prevotella bacteria. Researchers then took ten volunteers and fed half of them a diet high in fat and low in fiber, and fed the other half a low-fat, high-fiber diet. By the end of ten days, the bacterial populations had begun to change but were still predominantly the same Bacteroides and Prevotella groups. This indicates that it’s possible to change the gut microbiota with diet, but it will take more than a short-term change to see any major difference.

Next steps will be to replicate these findings to confirm them and to take the studies further by looking at whether these gut types are associated with health. It’s an exciting area of research, working out the details of what health advocates like ReNew Life founder Brenda Watson has said all along—your gut is the foundation of the health of the rest of your body. It all begins in the gut!

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‡This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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