Our gut microbiota (also called gut flora) is an ever-changing ecosystem which contains trillions of bacteria, fungi, archaea and is continuously shaped by our lifestyle, diet, stress, seasonality, diseases and the use of antibiotics.
Even though there are numerous external factors that can impact gut health, the most important external factor is our diet.
The modern Westernized diet, with low fibre, high amounts of sodium and fats, ultra-processed ingredients and additives, can negatively impact our gut health. High intake of animal proteins, saturated fats, salt and sugar stimulates the growth of pathogenic bacteria which harm the beneficial gut bacteria. This has an adverse effect on the composition of gut microbiota, its richness and diversity. This can lead to the weakening of intestinal walls, abnormal activity of immune cells, altered barrier functions, among other adverse effects.
However, its not all doom & gloom in good ole Gut-ville. The imbalance of our gut microbiota can be addressed by adding functional foods like probiotics and prebiotics to our diet.
What are probiotics and prebiotics?
Probiotics and their benefits
Probiotics are defined by FAO/WHO as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.
Consuming probiotic drinks like kombucha and fermented foods like sauerkraut help to boost the diversity of the beneficial gut bacteria. The physiological effects of probiotic bacteria are numerous – reduction of gut pH, production of some digestive enzymes and vitamins, production of antibacterial substances, reconstruction of normal intestinal microflora after disorders caused by diarrhoeas, antibiotic therapy and radiotherapy, reduction of cholesterol level in the blood, stimulation of immune functions, suppression of bacterial infections, removal of carcinogens, improvement of calcium absorption as well as the reduction of faecal enzyme activity.
But before you pile a forkful of the sauerkraut on your plate, it is important to understand that you need to eat certain foods that will keep those armies of gut bacteria well fed & happy. Hint, their favourite food are prebiotics.
Prebiotics and their benefits
Prebiotics are the fermentable dietary fibres present in fruits, vegetables, legumes and seeds which selectively feed beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microbiota, to maintain a healthy microbiome environment. These dietary fibres can be further classified as insoluble fibres and soluble fibres.
Insoluble fibres provide roughage for your intestinal activity, helping to keep things running smoothly. Soluble fibres reach the large intestine intact and are selectively fermented to give beneficial effects and broken down into short-chained fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are a crucial energy source for our bodily functions. Dietary fibres also stimulate growth & activity of colonic bacteria. The healthy activity of these colonic bacteria has been reported to reduce the colon cancer risk in experimental studies. Also, the capability of the gut microbiota to generate bioactive compounds from the diet, regulate energy expenditure & storage has been experimentally demonstrated to reduce risk markers of diabetes, obesity and cancer incidences.
Probiotics and prebiotics have been reported to work best in combination. This combined effect of both results in synbiotics.
With a wide variety of probiotic foods readily available in the market, at Amino Mantra we focus strongly on prebiotics. Minimally processed certified organic vegetables combined with legumes and seeds provide good carbohydrates & dietary fibres for your gut health and overall wellbeing. Our plant patties can be served with any meals – breakfast, lunch or dinner. This makes adding prebiotics to your daily diet an easy task. If you are plant-based every day or some days, you can trust that our products will nourish your body, bring a smile to your soul and leave a lighter footprint on our planet.
As always, if Netflix & chill is not your style, you can explore more about gut health and diet by reading these articles.