What is Gut Health

Sofia Cannon, Arts and entertainment Editor

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Gut health is a complex, yet, essential subject when talking about health. When it comes down to it, it’s about two major concepts: prebiotics and probiotics. This topic is increasingly being researched in the medical community. Gut health is linked to a diverse array of bacteria in your microbiome. Probiotics are beneficial gut bugs, and prebiotics are the food for these bacteria. You can get both probiotics and prebiotics from the food you eat. Let’s break down what these two are made up of.

Probiotics

These are the good bacteria that make up your stomach and keep you healthy. Probiotics can be found in several supplements, but most importantly in foods. Doctors suggest them to people with digestive problems, but the reality is that everyone should be concerned with gut health, and therefore probiotics. They key fact about probiotics is that they promote a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your body. The most common probiotic is called Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is found in yogurt and fermented foods. Two other major types of bacteria are Bifidobacterium, found in dairy products, and Saccharomyces boulardii, a type of yeast. Among other things, probiotics help send food through your gut by affecting nerves that control gut movement. Probiotics affect everything from bowel issues to oral health and even skin conditions such as eczema.

 

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are helpful because they increase the helpful bacteria already in your gut. A gastroenterologist, Dr. Frank W. Jackson, thought of an analogy as to think of it as a garden. While the probiotic bacteria are the seeds you place in the garden, the prebiotic fiber is the water and fertilizer used to help the seeds grow and thrive. Prebiotic fiber is not as delicate as probiotic bacteria because it is not affected by things like heat, stomach acid, or time. Research from the National Institutions of Health indicate that increasing prebiotic fiber intake supports immunity, digestive health, bone density, regularity, weight management, and even brain health.  

Gut Health

Your body is a microbiome and when it comes to maintaining your microbiome at its healthiest level, nothing is more important than how you fuel your body. The term “gut microbiome” refers specifically to the microorganisms in your intestines. A person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in their digestive tract. While some microorganisms are harmful to our health, many are incredibly beneficial and even necessary to a healthy body. So at the end of the day, gut health is all about what you eat and drink. A great general rule is to focus on eating colorful, plant-based foods. Obviously avoiding sugary and fast foods is highly recommended for your gut too.

Overall, your health should always be made a priority because it’s something you will always have and that correlates so strongly with feeling good. Gut health, specifically, plays a critical role in maintaining your body in optimal shape. It’s important to see how much your food affects your body, and how small changes can significantly impact your well-being.   

 

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