Tag Archives: health

Our Soup of Bugs: Promoting Good Gut Bugs Prebiotics and Probiotics

Source: flickr user BASF

Source: flickr user BASF

There is a lot of talk nowadays about probiotics. What the heck are they?  Well we learn a little about probiotics during a television commercial with a yogurt product called Activia which claims to help populate your gut with good bacteria. If it could be so simple!  Did anyone say our current diet could be eroding the good bacteria? No! Anyway, probiotics are the first step in being aware and empowered in our gut health and integrity.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that flourish in your digestive track but they require a balanced pH (potential hydrogen) environment to stick around. Some voices would argue they do not stick around but wash out.  They help your body digest nutrients, absorb vitamins, stop inflammation and stop the growth of bad bacteria. Bad bacteria are classified as anaerobic bacteria. If these bad bacteria are left unchecked your food will not digest like it should but will ferment and produce toxins. You will have discomfort, gas and bloating. After eating you will feel bad.  Yuck!

Maintaining the friendly bacteria in the GI tract is paramount to good health. In order for the small intestines to work properly, it is important to nourish this tissue with an ample supply of friendly bacteria called probiotics.  Probiotics are live microorganisms that when eaten in adequate amounts as part of food intake support the host’s health.  Some individuals call probiotics the “ultimate neighborhood watch” as they are continually keeping guard against harmful bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that want to rob our health.

Probiotics are the active participants in a wide range of health promoting mechanisms in the GI tract. Probiotics support health cell growth, maintain the gut barrier, build the cell wall, reduce inflammation, stop pathogen adhesion and enhance the immune system. Our diet profoundly affects the gut flora just as it affects the rest of our health.  A diet high in sugar and starches such as flour-containing foods limit probiotics’ growth.  However, a vast array of plants we can eat will encourage the growth of healthy intestinal flora.  While probiotics are the healthy bacteria, prebiotics are the foods that feed them.

A prebiotic is a nondigestable food ingredient that positively affects the growth and activity of bacteria in the colon and improves over all health13.   Examples of prebiotics are disaccharides, polysaccharides and oligiosaccharides.  These are complex carbohydrates that migrate to the colon where they are selectively fermented by specific bacteria. This fermentation process stimulates the growth and activities of other bacterial species that already reside in the colon.

The probiotic prebiotic phenomena creates a chain reaction whether in the small intestines or colon by releasing a vital short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid (butyrate) that improves gut function and promotes an anti-inflammatory response in the GI tract.  Short chain fatty acids are the ideal fuel for the epithelial cells that line the gut, nurturing them to ideal health and function.  Supplements nowadays can contain both probiotics and prebiotics called “Synbiotics.”

An ideal way to maintain proper gut flora is using a synbiotic that is from soil-based organisms.  When we talk about maintaining good gut flora over the long term for optimal function and graceful aging this combination shows promise.  Who would of thought we are made up of a soup of bugs and that we need to be proactive in maintaining the good gut bugs and not the bad?

To your health,

Dr. Dana

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Ignite Health Awareness for Vital Living

I’m here to stimulate an “ah ha” moment in your life.  To reveal an area of your life that can be tweaked for improved quality and function on every level. I intend to peak your interest, create curiosity and uncover areas of your life that may not be working as well as you’d like.
The changes and health decisions you make now will impact you for years to come.

Don’t you want to be the best you can be? Awareness is the first step. Let’s take this journey together.

My focus for the next 3 months is going to be in the area of great passion for me– gut health.  Your inside tract or your gastrointestinal system is the the entrance to the interior of your body.  If this highway is not fully functioning your entire body can be compromised. By this I mean you could be letting pathogens or organisms that are foreign into your body and you may not have any gut symptoms. That is scary!

In many ways, your health is like a tree.

In many ways, your health is like a tree.

When I speak of health I picture a tree.  Your foliage needs to be full, green and lush. Your trunk thick, protective and craggy from the wear of life and its ongoing exposure.  But for some folks their tree is sparse with branches and few leaves, their leave color is more yellow or brown.  The tree trunk may even have holes in it and moss growing on it.

The physical manifestation of your health behaviors is shown in how you look and how well you function daily. Is your skin color pale or just right?  Is your hair dull and thinning? How is your short term memory? Are you able to meet the stressors and tasks that present themselves with grace and still have energy left? Do you rebound from a busy week or need to hunker in to rest and recharge your batteries over the weekend? These questions are posed so you begin to take a personal look at how well you are doing honestly.  We can pretend and fool ourselves!

Your foundation of health is your root system, the continual lifestyle patterns and behaviors that make up your day. Each of us were trained in a way of being by our parents for health and longevity, however, that foundation was not ours but their own. Now is the time to look at what you want your health root system to be so the foundation you build, nurture and grow will provide a platform for optimal functioning and vital living.

To your health!

Dr. Dana

Looking for more information? Check out ‘The Root of Health,” a website devoted to healthy living.