The importance of gut health has become an increasing area of interest for researchers recently, as a balanced gut flora has been linked to reducing signs of illness and disease. Etymologically the term probiotic is derived from the Greek language meaning for “life”. Probiotics aid in supporting the good bacteria in our digestive tract, which is vital as 70-80 % of our entire immune system is in the gut. Research is now coming out calling our digestive tract the second brain, as it is the second largest part of our neurological system, with the enteric nervous system located in the gut. Not only does a healthy gut allow us to better absorb nutrients and fight infection, but taking regular probiotics further improves our immune function, reduces inflammation and promotes healthy digestion. Not only that, but the gut is responsible for creating 95% of serotonin (The feel-good neurochemical) which may significantly impact our brain function and mood.
For a healthy gut, there needs to be a balance of good and bad bacteria. In our lives now, we are constantly bombarded with toxins and inflammation from our foods and environment, that significantly impair our gut health. Fermented food, such as sauerkraut, Kombucha, and kimchi or taking probiotic supplements daily are a few ways in which you can help rebalance your gut health.
The microbiome (the sum of all bacteria throughout your gastrointestinal system) is a complex system in your body. Factors that significantly affect your microbiome health include:
- Overuse of prescription antibiotics
- GMO foods
- Emotional stress
- Lack of exercise
- Poor sleep habits
Even if you were to take probiotic supplements every day but continued to overeat on sugar and not have enough exercise, your gut health won’t significantly be impaired as there will be an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Researchers agree that the balance of gut flora should be 85% good bacteria and 15% bad bacteria. By living a healthy balanced life, consuming fermented foods and taking probiotic supplements, this can work to help bring these ratio’s back into balance.