Probiotics, prebiotics and gut flora

Taking a probiotic or fermented food can be helpful to our gut flora but only to an extent. They really don’t survive long if they aren’t being fed and the quantity of microbes in the tablets or fermented food compared to the the population in the gut itself…. well, think of it as being a bit like asking one doctor to service an entire hospital. A mere drop in the ocean so to speak!

Probiotics and fermented foods can add new strains (species) but they don’t do a lot to really boost numbers. What really makes a difference is your diet. Within days of changing what you eat, your gut flora changes too, because it’s your diet that boosts or starves each strain. And the healthiest bacterial populations in our gut feed on plant foods (indigestible fibre) so this is what we need in order to nurture and build a thriving healthy gut environment. Animal products don’t contribute to this healthy population because they don’t contain fibre. In fact, by having too much animal foods in your diet, you risk starving your healthy gut flora, and as I’ve pointed out previously, this can lead to inflammation both in the gut and the body as a whole. Continue reading

Nourish rather than destroy

Your microbiome is your personal ecosystem of microbes that live in and on your body. Microbes are small organisms, e.g. bacteria and viruses, more commonly known as ‘germs’ or ‘bugs’. These microbes out-number our cells 10 to 1, and while most of us think of microbes as being bad, the vast majority of microbes within and around us are friendly or benign. Many of the microbes that share our body with us are vital to the function of body systems, and we could not survive without them. While most of them live in our gut, they inhabit every surface of our body that comes into contact with the outside world, such as our skin, throat, nose, lungs, bladder, vagina and so on.

A healthy balance of microbes in your body is very important to the healthy functioning of your immune system. Imbalances in our micro biome can contribute to many modern diseases involving inflammation and immune dysfunction such as allergies and automimmune disease. In a way, you could think of your microbiome as being part of your immune system, because it helps keep bad bugs under control. I think of these microbes as being a support team for our white blood cells. Continue reading

Biocomplexity, Apples and Vitamin C

Last year, exasperated by the strange obsession I was hearing from the world around me about the ‘correct’ fat, carbohydrate and protein ratios, I posted the following on my Facebook page:

“APPLES have fat in them- quite a high amount actually, for a fruit. They also have a little protein, not much- but it is there, and nutrition isn’t all about quantity, it’s about diversity and quality and the way plant chemicals combine together. Do you want to hear which proteins (amino acids) are in apples?

Asparagine, Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lycine, Methionine, Cysteine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Tyrosine, Valine, Argenine, Histidine, Alanine, Aspartic Acid.

There are many, many other nutrients in Apples, like Vitamin A, B1, B2, and B6, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Folic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Pottassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.

Then there are some other ones you might not have heard about, like Alpha-Linolenic-Acid, D-Categin, Isoqurctrin, Hyperoside, Ferulic-Acid, Farnesene, Neoxathin, Phosphatidyl-Choline, Reynoutrin, Sinapic-Acid, Caffeic-Acid, Chlorogenic-Acid, P-Hydroxy-Benzoic-Acid, P-Coumaric-Acid, Avicularin, Lutein, Quercitin, Rutin, Ursolic-Acid, Protocatechuic-Acid, and Silver.

Then there are the ones that we haven’t discovered yet….
Diet is about more than just segregating foods into broad food groups, like carbs, fat and protein.” Continue reading