If you’ve been following us, you must’ve read several articles that we’ve published on gut health and advising our readers to consume probiotics through natural means such as kombucha, kimchi and kefir, or through high quality probiotic supplements. Several doctors that we’ve spoken to and those in the medical industry have also explained how the walls of our digestive system is connected to over millions of nerve cells that affect the emotional and cognitive centres of the brain. Which is why, our guts are often called the second brain.
It’s hard to imagine how the tiny microorganisms in the gut (the gut microbiome) can affect you emotionally. But when the 38 trillion bacteria in your gut are thrown off balance (known as ‘dysbiosis’), it can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
As such, it comes as no surprise that many turn to fermented foods, such as those listed above, to get that added boost for the gut. However, Alex Georgiou, naturopathic practitioner and medical researcher at Life-Space for close to a decade, notes that these fermented foods aren’t well-researched in clinical trials. Commercially sold kombucha only has a fraction — some containing less than 15% — of the amount of bacterial units required to relieve symptoms of gut-related conditions like diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
This means that natural probiotics found in foods are simply not enough and medically formulated probiotics can help as a complementary measure to help the gut meal.
Having studied the probiotics-wellness nexus for years, here’s Alex’s take on some myths that we might be familiar with:
1. “I drink a lot of yoghurt/kombucha/probiotic drinks everyday, so I get enough good bacteria for my gut.”
Even if you help yourself to multiple servings of fermented food and drinks everyday, there is only so much your body can absorb. Chances are, most of the beneficial bacteria are just being excreted.
More importantly, your gut is a host to more than 500 species of bacteria, and it is nearly impossible to find even a fraction of the strains from food sources no matter how diverse they are.
2. “I eat a clean diet and my gut is healthy. So I’m good without probiotics.”
The definition of “healthy” has evolved as we humans have come a far way from cultivating our own foods. Our lifestyle factors can heavily influence our microbiome. In fact, studies have shown that stress, lack of sleep, and even taking medications like antibiotics have led to altered microbiome composition.
Noting that our gut also controls enzymes that regulate our “feel-good” neurotransmitters, a.k.a dopamine and serotonin, those with a “healthy” gut can still suffer from the effects of an unbalanced microbiome resulting in stress, headaches, poor sleep quality and skin problems.
3. “Taking probiotics alone can fix my gut?”
Probiotics are an essential “helper” in your gut, but it does not replace the need for a well-rounded diet that is rich in plant-based and fibre-rich foods. It lets your gut microbiome thrive, and in turn, the microbiome helps with better absorption of nutrition from the food.
Your unique microbiome needs diversity, both in diet and bacteria. And your probiotics need to be carefully formulated to meet those needs. Life-Space’s probiotics for instance have 15 high-quality strains of bacteria that are naturally sourced and support the specific needs of your gut, from during pregnancy all the way until old age.
Those who are vegetarians would be glad to know that Life-Space probiotics are vegetarian-friendly and do not have added dairy, gluten or egg.
Images: Unsplash and Life-Space