Fermented foods and beverages, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha, were a regular part of our ancestors’ diets for thousands of years. Originally a method of preserving produce from harvest time through the cold days of winter; fermentation involves adding a bacterial or yeast starter to a food. These organisms convert starches and sugars to alcohol or acids, lengthening the food’s shelf life and producing the unique and tangy flavours we associate with fermented foods. Recently, these foods have seen a resurgence in popularity, not for their shelf lives but for their claimed digestive health benefits. As probiotics have also risen in popularity for similar reasons, let us explore how fermented foods stack up against a high quality probiotic.
It All Begins In The Gut
Our interest in strategies to improve digestive health has been fuelled by an expanding body of research indicating that poor gut health negatively affects many other body systems. Specifically, imbalances in the microbiome, the ecosystem of approximately 38 trillion bacteria and other organisms living in your digestive tract, have been connected not only to gut disorders but to mood, immune, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, cancer and even cardiovascular disease., (To find out more about the microbiome, read this blog).
Research shows that taking live beneficial bacteria, such as probiotics, can improve microbiome health, reducing the symptoms of many health conditions,, improving general health and lowering the risk of diseases such as those mentioned above. In light of this, probiotic supplements and fermented foods, both sources of potentially beneficial bacteria, have been put forward as effective options for improving microbiome health. Consequently, there is a misconception that they are interchangeable; however, there are fundamental differences between them.
The Pros of Probiotics
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Research has shown that specific types (strains) of probiotics, at defined doses, can help manage particular health conditions or symptoms, such as hayfever or bloating.
To understand this further, let us use irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a painful digestive disorder, as an example. (To read more about IBS, click here). Research indicates that the specific probiotic strain, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, can relieve the bloating, intestinal pain and inflammation of medically diagnosed IBS., This benefit occurs when the probiotic is taken at a dose of 20 billion colony-forming units (CFU), which is a way of expressing the amount of live bacteria contained per probiotic capsule or dose of powder.
Scientists give probiotic bacteria three names we can use to identify them and connect them to their health benefits: genus (e.g. Lactobacillus), species (e.g. plantarum), and strain (e.g. 299v). To get the health benefits associated with that strain, all three names must match the probiotic used in the scientific research, as well as the dose. (If you want to learn more about why strains are so important, click here).
Luckily, you can find information on strains and doses in a probiotic supplement just by reading the label. By choosing a probiotic from a reputable brand committed to quality, you can feel confident that you will receive:
- A guaranteed strain of bacteria effective for your health condition
- A correct quantity of live bacteria necessary for the benefit you require
- Bacteria that are alive at the label dosage until the expiry date
So, if you are looking to improve a particular health condition, choose a strain-specific probiotic for best results. What’s the easiest way to find the right probiotic for your condition? See a Natural Healthcare Practitioner.
Fermented Foods Vs Probiotics
Although fermented foods contain live bacteria, the microbes responsible for fermentation do not confer the same health benefits as a probiotic supplement. In fact, an expert panel of scientists concluded that fermented foods have unidentified microbial content, meaning there is no guarantee of what bacterial strains or doses will be present in them. For this reason, they are fundamentally different from probiotics.
That being said, many people experience non-specific digestive health benefits from including fermented foods in their diet, which could be related to the bacteria present, however, more research is needed to confirm this. Since fermentation breaks ingredients down into simpler parts, these foods are generally easier to digest, and fermentation also increases the nutritional value of the food. If you are healthy and do not require specific health benefits, fermented foods may be appropriate for you.
Be aware that, while fermenting at home can be fun, it is not a risk-free process. Exposure to oxygen, for example, can allow mould, yeast and less beneficial bacteria to grow. High-quality probiotics, on the other hand, are produced under strict hygienic conditions that minimise the risk of introducing ‘bad’ microorganisms into your gut. If your digestive system is sensitive, you may be better off taking a probiotic.
Choose What’s Right For You
Fermented foods are a tasty addition to the diet and do appear to provide some non-specific digestive benefits to relatively healthy people, on the proviso that they are prepared correctly. However, for support with specific health conditions, it is important to choose a specific probiotic strain, at the right dose, for your condition. If you would like further information please contact me.
Did you know that The WHO estimates between 10 and 50% of indoor environments in Australia, Europe, India, Japan and North America are affected by indoor dampness, making them susceptible to mould growth?
To find out and learn if biotoxin exposure (CIRS) from mould and water-damaged buildings could be affecting your health and causing chronic inflammation and immune activation please contact me.😁
The Purpose of Poo
As you read this, your body is working hard to:
- Clear waste produced during its normal, healthy activities
- Remove compounds (e.g. hormones) from circulation that have completed their tasks
- Neutralise toxins that can harm your body, and
- Fight off pathogens (infectious organisms) that could otherwise make you sick
Once it’s completed these tasks, the next step is to eliminate
So, How Often Should You Poo?
As your digestive tract is one of the main avenues for removing waste from your body, it’s ideal to pass at least one well-formed stool daily; this ensures the efficient clearance of toxins from your body. Anything less than this, and you might be experiencing constipation.
But why does this occur? What impact is it having within your gut? And most importantly, what can you do to address the underlying causes?
Read on to learn what to do when you don’t poo.
The medical definition of chronic constipation (CC) involves experiencing the below symptoms for at least a three-month period:
- Hard or lumpy stools;
- Reduced frequency of defecation (less than three bowel motions per week);
- A sensation of not passing the entire stool (i.e. a feeling of incomplete evacuation); or
- Straining when passing a stool.
However, under this definition, straining to pass a hard stool each day, or only going several times a week, can be seen as ‘normal’, leading people to believe their symptoms are benign or harmless.
Unfortunately, this may not be the case. CC increases the risk of complications such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures, faecal impaction and faecal incontinence.
As your digestive tract is one of the main avenues for removing waste from your body, it’s ideal to pass at least one well-formed stool daily
Let’s Leave the Laxatives
For some, it may seem logical to simply take a laxative to move things along. Yes, laxatives can certainly help, however, whether they’re softening the stool or speeding up gut motility (the muscular contractions of your intestines that move the stool through the colon), they’re not addressing the underlying dysfunction that triggers constipation. Additionally, regular laxative use carries the risk of the bowel developing a dependence on them to pass a stool.
Addressing the true cause of constipation requires us to examine the health of the gut, with a special spotlight on the microbiome.
The Microbiome-Constipation Connection
Your intestinal microbiome is a living colony of 38 trillion beneficial bacteria, yeasts and fungi that work synergistically to keep your gut, immune system and entire body healthy. When it comes to bowel regularity, your microbiome plays two hugely important roles:
- Converts the fibre from your food into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs regulate your gut motility as well as provide fuel for your gut cells, keeping your digestive system healthy. Insufficient fibre intake, or not having enough good gut bacteria, can cause low levels of SCFAs, decreasing gut motility and leading to constipation. In fact, research has shown that constipated patients have lower levels of SCFAs compared to those with diarrhoea.
- Prevents pathogenic (bad) organisms from overgrowing in the gut. These unwanted organisms can trigger microbiome-disrupting inflammation, and also produce gasses such as methane, which slow gut motility. Together, these negative effects can produce constipation.
In order to remedy your microbiome issues and eliminate your constipation, there are two key ingredients you can call on.
Prebiotics Promote the Poo
The first ingredient to look for when restoring the microbiome to treat constipation is partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG). PHGG is a prebiotic, which is a group of fibres that provide your beneficial bacteria with the food to make SCFAs. Research shows 5 g/d of PHGG to provide particular benefit to those with constipation, demonstrating the capacity to soften the stool, increase the weekly number of bowel motions, and decrease abdominal pain, straining with bowel motions, and laxative use.
Research shows 5 g/d of PHGG to provide particular benefit to those with constipation, demonstrating the capacity to soften the stool, increase the weekly number of bowel motions, and decrease abdominal pain, straining with bowel motions, and laxative use.
The Strain that Stops the Strain
The second ingredient is the probiotic strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v. Probiotics are live, beneficial microbes that support the health of your gut and intestinal microbiome. To read more on what probiotics are and why selecting the right strain is important, click here.
A primary action of probiotics, including 299v, is to help the beneficial organisms within your microbiome to grow and flourish. This creates more good bacteria that then produce more SCFAs, which we now know is very useful for combatting constipation! Beyond this, 299v can also produce antimicrobial substances that prevent pathogenic microbes from surviving within the gut, reduce inflammation within your digestive tract, and prevent pathogenic organisms from attaching to your gut lining.
Get Things Moving
If you’re moving your bowels less than once a day, passing
The wonderful spice Turmeric continues to gain popularity in treating all sorts of health conditions. However, what should turmeric actually be used for?
How does it work within the body?
What is it that you should be looking for when choosing turmeric supplements available in the market place?
🎧 Listen to this ‘Your Health Guide’ podcast episode where Laurence is joined by Naturopath, Nick Breen, to separate the evidence from the hype on the benefits and uses of turmeric
Listen Now on iTunes – https://apple.co/2OCeFCK
and now on SPOTIFY – https://spoti.fi/2Pu8L7v\
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In order to manage ongoing pain, the underlying cause, inflammation, must be addressed and resolved. Natural Medicines and certain dietary and lifestyle interventions enable your body to calm and resolve the inflammatory response.
Our Pain is Insane
With 20% of Australians suffering from chronic pain, and pain being the most common reason someone will visit a healthcare Practitioner in Australia, there is no question that we’re a nation in pain and inflamed!
To understand how to reduce pain, we need to look at its main cause, inflammation, which is triggered in response to tissue injury or infection. The inflammatory process is designed to initiate healing and also to keep you resting while healing occurs. For this reason, the swelling that comes with inflammation stimulates nerves around the affected area, sending signals to your brain that something is wrong by causing you pain, and consequently restricting your movement.
In states of chronic pain, however, the resolution does not occur, and instead, the body becomes stuck in the initiation phase, with persistent inflammation and pain. To reduce chronic pain, then, we need to address both phases of inflammation – initiation and resolution.
Find out how YOU can shift your body’s level of inflammation and begin on the road to a pain-free life, with 10 Natural Things You Can Do for Your Chronic Pain.
‘Take Diabetes 2 Heart’ is one of their current campaigns, as too many Australians with type 2 diabetes are in a bad relationship with their heart. Nearly two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes don’t know that heart disease is the number one cause of death for people with type 2 diabetes. This initiative is about inspiring people who have diabetes, and the people who love them, to take positive steps to better heart health. The following tips are a great place to start to take better care of your heart!
Natural Health Practitioners are best placed to help you take care of your heart.
If you would like more information please contact me.💚❤💚