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Probiotics for optimal health and wellbeing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Meaning ‘for life,’ probiotics are the natural and friendly bacteria which may provide an abundance of health benefits.

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live inside the digestive tract. These living micro-organisms help to balance the intestinal microflora, which helps support the gastrointestinal system. With the ability to be taken at all life stages, probiotics help to promote bacterial diversity to help support immune, digestive and bowel health.

The human microbiome

Many people would have a negative association with the term ‘bacteria’. The human body contains just as many bacterial cells as human cells, this extraordinary interconnected ecosystem containing trillions of bacteria and their genes is called the ‘microbiome.’ Emerging studies concerning the involvement of the microbes within the gut are showing that the human gut acts as the frontline to the immune system and can directly impact the health of the digestive system, bowel health and general health and wellbeing. So what does the microbiome have to do with the gut?

The microbiota is the collection of microbesthat live on and in the human body, the microbiome refers to the complete set of genes within these bacteria. Each person’s microbial make-up is different and is largely dependent on what the individual is exposed to throughout their life. Factors that can compromise a microbiome’s make up include; the way they were born, illness, stress, lifestyle and diet choices or demographic factors such as age and gender. The human digestive system contains the most microbes in comparison to anywhere else in or on the body. Getting the balance of bacteria right within these systems can increase the chance of maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. The highest concentration of the human gut bacteria lies within the large intestine. The typical bacteria that occupy this niche include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The presence (or lack of presence) of these bacteria can influence the nutritional breakdown of food and the health of the digestive system.

The human body is not able to create the digestive enzymes that are needed to break down some dietary nutrients, therefore gut bacteria (who can ferment these are essential for adequate digestion.

Until recently, scientists focused almost solely on how pathogenic microbes negatively affect humans. After an increase in research, studies are showing the unfolding story of the microbiome and there has since been a realisation that some microorganisms are actually beneficial to human health. More attention is now given to the microbiome and its role in health and immunity.

Everyone’s individual microbiome is constantly changing. A diet rich in carbohydrates or fibre can have a positive impact on the health of the microbiome. However, for many people, a balanced diet can be unattainable. Prebiotics and probiotics can help to assist the health of the microbiome. Prebiotics primary role is to ‘feed’ or support the endogenous bacteria of the microbiome. Probiotic supplements that contain an assortment of beneficial bacteria strains can support or assist the essential bacteria that is required by the body for optimal health and wellbeing.

Probiotics are different from vitamins

Vitamins help to support increased nutritional requirements throughout the stages of adult life.

Probiotics help the digestive system absorb these vital nutrients. Probiotics and vitamins are complimentary to each other.