At the centre of a healthy digestive system is a well-kept gastrointestinal (GI) tract or the gut, a tube that runs from our mouth to our anus.
The gut, or intestine, allows us to absorb nutrients for the body and remove harmful toxins and waste materials.
But the benefits of a healthy digestive system go far and beyond merely contributing to the balance of nutrient retention and disposable of toxins.
It also tantamount to maintaining overall body health. (1)
Benefits of A Healthy Gut
Better Stress Management
A common symptom of a body under stress is diarrhoea.
A body under stress will experience a weakening of the immune system, which is closely linked to digestive health.
This may result in poor functionality of certain bodily organs, leading to or compounding on other health problems.
Hence, a healthy digestive system will help to ward off stress-related ailments. (2)
Under optimal conditions, the body uses 80% of your energy to digest foods.
This figure increases in times of stress or illness, leaving less energy for the body’s other important functions. (3)
One of the ways to maintain this necessary energy level, is to supplement our diet with an intake of probiotics. (4)
Recovering from Antibiotics
Antibiotics work by killing off bacteria that cause infection but they also eliminate friendly bacteria from the
digestive tract at the same time. (5)
A probiotic supplement helps bring back the balance of good bacteria, which will help to restore the health of our digestive system. (6)
Beneficial Friendly Bacteria
Our gut contains both good and bad bacteria.
It is important to note that a balance of good and bad bacteria is essential for optimal health.
Once the balance between good and bad bacteria is affected, our bodies become less efficient in absorbing the nutrients they need, resulting in further digestive and health problems. (7)
Essential good bacteria in our bodies include:
– Produces lactic acid which alters the intestinal environment, making it not conducive for pathogenic bacteria to grow. (8)
– Studies show that Lactobacillus improves lactose digestion, which suggests that it may help those who are lactose intolerant. (9)
– Reduces incidence of diarrhoea due to changes in eating habits or stress. (10)
– The first line of defense against bad bacteria such as Salmonella and E-Coli.
– Produces lactic acid which discourages the growth of harmful bacteria to protect intestinal cell integrity and maintain good intestinal health.
– Supports digestion of dairy products.
– Reduces lactose intolerance and incidences of diarrhoea. (13)
Understanding Probiotics and Prebiotics
Live organisms that helps improve the environment of the intestinal tract
Help maintain microbial balance in the intestines
Help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus are probiotics. (14)
Food sources that stimulate the growth or activity of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Not digested by the human digestive enzymes, hence they pass through the intestine unchanged, enabling probiotics to utilize these prebiotics as food sources.
Help stimulate growth of friendly bacteria.
Can be derived from non-digestive fiber, eg. inulin, raffinose, galactooligosaccharides or fructooligosaccharides. (15)
1. Patient/Dr Roger Henderson. 2015. The Gut | Health | Patient. [ONLINE] Available at: http://patient.info/health/the-gut. [Accessed 26 December 2016].
2. Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ, 2011. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options.. Journal of physiology and pharmacology, [Online]. 62(6), 591-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314561 [Accessed 3 February 2017].
3. Better Health Channel. 2014. Metabolism – Better Health Channel. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/metabolism. [Accessed 24 March 2017].
4. Peera Hemarajata and James Versalovic, 2013. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, [Online]. 6(1), 39–51. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539293/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
5. Amy Langdon, Nathan Crook, and Gautam Dantas, 2016. The effects of antibiotics on the microbiome throughout development and alternative approaches for therapeutic modulation. Genome Medicine, [Online]. 8, 39. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4831151/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
6. Maria Kechagia, Dimitrios Basoulis, Stavroula Konstantopoulou, Dimitra Dimitriadi, Konstantina Gyftopoulou, Nikoletta Skarmoutsou, and Eleni Maria Fakiri, 2013. Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review. ISRN Nutrition, [Online]. 2013, 481651. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
7. Caitriona M. Guinane and Paul D. Cotter, 2013. Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, [Online]. 6(4), 295–308. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/ [Accessed 24 March 2017].
8. Sook Jong Rhee, Jang-Eun Lee, and Cherl-Ho Lee, 2011. Importance of lactic acid bacteria in Asian fermented foods. Microbial Cell Factories, [Online]. 10(Suppl 1), S5. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3231931/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
9. Gregor Reid, 1999. The Scientific Basis for Probiotic Strains of Lactobacillus. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, [Online]. 65(9), 3763–3766. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC99697/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
10. Pace F, Pace M, Quartarone G., 2015. Probiotics in digestive diseases: focus on Lactobacillus GG.. Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica, [Online]. 61(4), 273-92. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26657927 [Accessed 27 March 2017].
11. Nobuhiko Kamada, Grace Y. Chen, Naohiro Inohara, and Gabriel Núñez, 2013. Control of Pathogens and Pathobionts by the Gut Microbiota. Nature Immunology, [Online]. 14(7), 685-690. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4083503/ [Accessed 31 March 2017].
12. Picard C, Fioramonti J, Francois A, Robinson T, Neant F, Matuchansky C, 2005. Review article: bifidobacteria as probiotic agents — physiological effects and clinical benefits.. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, [Online]. 22(6), 495-512. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16167966 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
13. NCBI / Maria Jevitz Patterson. 1996. Streptococcus – Medical Microbiology – NCBI Bookshelf. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7611/. [Accessed 31 March 2017].
14. Gupta V, Garg R, 2009. Probiotics. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology, [Online]. 27(3), 202-9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19584499 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
15. Slavin J, 2013. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.. Nutrients, [Online]. 5(4), 1417-35. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23609775 [Accessed 31 March 2017].
Published on 4 May 2017