Just last week, a patient came to me with a question about the benefits of probiotics and how they benefit our health. Through our conversation, I was surprised at how often people overlook the function of probiotics, which can directly influence your overall well-being, particularly your gut.
So today, as a gastrointestinal doctor who’s spent years navigating the world of gut health, I’ve put together this article to shed light on the critical role probiotics play in enhancing your gut health.
Understanding Gut Health
To get started, what exactly does “gut health” stand for?
The term “gut health” refers to all activities in your gastrointestinal (GI) system, which in turn is a vital player in maintaining one’s holistic health. Within the gut is a vibrant and diverse community of microorganisms which form an ecosystem known as gut microbiome. This ecosystem influences different areas of your well-being, spanning from digestion processes to influencing your immune system.
During my extensive experience in the field, I have discerned that a myriad of prevalent digestive complaints stem from a disrupted microbiome. These disturbances might manifest as mild issues like bloating and inconsistent bowel habits or escalate to more severe conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Diverticulitis. Being able to identify and rectify microbial imbalances in our gut is the key to how you can build a resilient gut health.
With that said, how do Probiotics play a role in rectifying these imbalances?
What Are Probiotics?
Firstly, probiotics are living beneficial bacteria naturally found in certain foods and supplements. Their primary role is to support a balanced gut microbiome, promoting better digestion and overall health.
The presence of these healthy bacteria is similar to having “caretakers” for your gut microbiome; they interact to help improve your digestive functions and create a robust internal system that is resilient to other health issues.
Now, having grasped the role of probiotics, it seems only natural to delve into their close relatives – prebiotics – and differentiate between the two. Prebiotics can be considered the ‘food’ for the friendly bacteria in your gut. Predominantly found in fibre-rich foods, they provide a nurturing ground for beneficial bacteria to flourish and multiply, even though they are non-digestible by human enzymes.
Simply put, while probiotics are the actual beneficial bacteria, prebiotics serve as their nourishment, fostering a harmonious relationship that is vital in maintaining a vibrant and healthy gut environment.
Benefits of Probiotics for Gut Health
When talking about the benefits of taking probiotics, there are definitely numerous advantages to it. From personal observation, they aid in enhancing digestion and facilitating better nutrient absorption.
In addition, through consuming the right strain of probiotics, patients have also reported that probiotics helped regulate their bowel movements and even relieved some troubling conditions such as constipation.
Some common foods that introduce probiotics to your system would include:
- Pickled vegetables (eg. pickled cucumber, radish)
In essence, prioritising your gut health with probiotics can transform your overall health. The cornerstone of vibrant health lies in a robust gut.