Probiotics, Prebiotics and Gut Health

What happens to the health of your digestive tract after taking antibiotics?

What dietary supplements do you need to help restore gut health?

The large intestine is home to a huge number of tiny organisms known as microbes because they can’t be seen without the aid of a microscope. These microbes are collectively called ‘gut flora’ and include many thousands of different species of bacteria, and smaller numbers of fungi and protozoa. Incredibly, there are ten times as many microbial organisms in the human gut as there are cells in the entire human body!

The symbiotic nature of the relationship between humans and our intestinal microbes is complex and includes many critical roles performed by gut flora that play an important role in our digestion, immune system function, nutrition, mood and metabolism. In other words, these trillions of tiny organisms live in healthy balance in our intestines, to help maintain our health.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are designed to kill all bacteria, good and bad, which can imbalance the gut flora, leading to the proliferation of bacteria or fungi that should only be present in very small amounts. This imbalance can compromise the health of the gut, causing problems with mood, yeast overgrowth, and immunity. Prebiotics and probiotics work to help restore the microbial balance, supporting healthy intestinal membranes and a balanced immune response in the gut. It is good advice to take probiotics during and for at least 2 weeks after antibiotic use.

Prebiotics are the indigestible fibres in many plant foods that feed and promote the growth of friendly gut flora. They support a healthy gut environment. Research has confirmed the common-sense view of dietary fibre as essential to a healthy functioning digestive tract. Essentially, eating a daily range of whole foods such as grains, nuts, seeds, pulses and vegetables will provide the prebiotic fibre you need. There is prebiotics available as supplement forms, for example in form of inulin in Pro-life chewable prebiotic inulin or in form of prebiotic greens in Raw Prebiotic Greens. Just a note of caution though: if there is an imbalanced gut flora already, the prebiotics could actually feed the wrong bacteria as well as the friendly bacteria. If gut problems like bloating, excessive gas and spasms are present, it might be a good idea to consult a natural health professional for advice.

Probiotics, as their name suggests, are ‘life promoting’ gut-friendly microorganisms needed to ensure the intestinal health and overall wellbeing. Acidophilus yoghurt and other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut or pickles are food sources of beneficial bacteria. If gut flora is compromised, it’s important to take a supplement form of probiotics which contain much higher numbers of healthy bacteria and is designed to survive the acidic environment of the stomach.

Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus and Bacillus are five beneficial bacteria genus types commonly found in probiotic supplements. Acidophilus, rhamnosus and reuteri are three species of the Lactobacillus genus. L. rhamnosus is one that can survive bile and stomach acid, and has proven effective in childhood respiratory illness and can support healthy skin. L. reuteri has been identified as one of the first strains of friendly bacteria to pass from mother to infant, helping create early natural immunity and digestive health. L. reuteri suits all ages, particularly infants who haven’t been breastfed or whose intestinal health is compromised for any reason.

There are many good choices for travellers to take a probiotic supplement while on the road. Probiotics are especially important for wellbeing if you’re heading to countries where the risk of digestive upsets and diarrhoea is high.

HealthPost stock a range of quality, leading-brand Prebiotic, gut health and  Probiotic supplements.  These are available for secure purchase at great low prices from our online store.