The microbiome is the aggregate of microorganisms in a specific environment (such as the human body). The human gastrointestinal tract contains 1,000 bacterial species. These species are classified into two categories- beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria which are potentially disease-causing strains. Beneficial Bacteria produce certain vitamins and short-chain fatty acids, check the growth of harmful bacteria, improve our immune system and our health in many ways.
Implications for Health:
An individual's microbiome is unique and is influenced by factors like diet and geography but some microbes are common to all human beings. The balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria is important for maintaining Gut health. Sometimes harmful bacteria overrun our microbiomes.
Diet, stress, medications, particularly antibiotics and environmental circumstances can disrupt your healthy microbiomes. A weakened microbiome invokes digestive issues and impacts the overall immunity system.
Benefits of Good Bacteria:
Good Bacteria helps human health in many ways.
It protects us against harmful bacteria
It strengthens the immune system
It strengthens the bowel wall tissues
It helps in food digestion
It produces vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B12 and vitamin K
It improves absorption of important minerals
It helps to improve symptoms of digestive diseases and disorders
It helps to regulate weight
It improves heart health
Altering the Microbiome
When the microbiome is out of balance, bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics but when the problem is recurrent, probiotics and prebiotics can help return the correct balance of the microbiome.
Probiotics for a healthy gut:
A probiotic contains a variety of beneficial bacteria which are effective for treating a specific ailment. The live bacteria go on to populate the gut and improve microbiome balance.
Some of the best sources of probiotics include yogurt, buttermilk, miso, tempeh, fermented milk and soy beverages. Probiotics are also found in some cereal, sour cream and cottage cheese.
It is always recommended to consult your health care practitioner before taking a probiotic supplement.
Prebiotics for Healthy Gut:
Probiotics introduce the good bacteria in our digestive tract to improve the gut health. The other way is to feed good gut bacteria so that they reproduce to takeover a higher proportion of microbiome.
Prebiotics are generally indigestible carbohydrates that are broken down in the large intestine by good bacteria and become a source of energy for them. This allows these bacteria to reproduce, leading to larger colonies of good bacteria.
Prebiotics are naturally occurring in a wide variety of plant foods. Whole grains, legumes, tomatoes, bananas, onions, garlic and fermented dairy products are good sources of prebiotics.
Fermented foods also contain microbes but eating fermented foods has less reliability of increasing the populations of good gut bacteria than taking supplements.
Ideal probiotics for an individual depends upon good digestive health, diet, lifestyle, and many other factors. Prebiotics and probiotics work side by side to help maintain healthy microbiome. Generally eating fermented foods and prebiotics can help improve digestive health. A calculated amount of prebiotic fiber supplement like a mere 5 gm sachet of MyFy can help to increase prebiotic fiber intake in a regular diet.