We wanted to share some natural evidence-based information with you about your gut health and those beautiful microorganisms that live in your gut. We think there's enough misinformation out there and products that are wasting your money. We want you to have the right information so that you can make informed decisions about your health. Enjoy.
Fibre and your Gut Health
Dietary fibre is the edible parts of plants or other foods (e.g. nuts and grains). Dietary fibre is good for a healthy gut and a healthy you. Dietary fibre is thought to provide a number of natural health-related effects such as the potential to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and to aid with certain gastrointestinal disorders.
How does fibre affect your gut bugs?
Fibre can help bulk up your No. 2’s
Help with constipation
And, may reduce the risk of colon disease as it can improve the regularity of your No 2's.
Fibre can naturally improve the viscosity of your No. 2’s which can help reduce the absorption of cholesterol and other nutrients that are not good for your health. Viscous fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol and other nutrients as it thickens the contents in your intestinal tract and slow down the travelling time of nutrients in your gut. This can help to reduce cholesterol and reduce your blood sugar levels after eating.
Different types of natural fibre and how much do I need?
Most foods get digested in your small intestine and the nutrients are absorbed there. Some fibre doesn’t get digested and absorbed in your small intestine. Instead, it goes to your large intestine where it is fermented to produce other compounds that help keep your gut healthy. In Australia, it is recommended that women have 25 g and men 30 g per day of fibre.
So what are the three main types of fibre?
Insoluble fibre. What is it and why is it important?
Insoluble fibre is that tough parts of plants like the skins of fruit and vegetables, wheat bran, corn bran, nuts, seeds and wholegrain foods. Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve in water. Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your No. 2’s and prevents constipation. There is only a small % of this fibre that is fermented in your large intestine.
Soluble fibre. What is it and why is it important?
Soluble fibre is also found in plants and is often found along with insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre does dissolve in water. Soluble fibre has a major role in lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol or LDL's. You can find good sources of soluble fibre in many different fruit and vegetables, oat bran, barley, dried beans, psyllium, lentils, peas and soy products. Your gut bugs love soluble fibre.
Resistant Starch. What is it and why is it important?
Resistant starch is a type of fibre that feeds you gut bugs in your large intestine and keeps them happy. Resistant starch is excellent natural food for your gut bugs as it ‘resists’ digestion in your small intestine and moves through to the large intestine where it is fermented. Through the fermentation process, your bugs produce products that provide health-related benefits.
The production of these products is linked to the health of your bowel, in particular, cells of your intestine where they are believed to play a part in maintaining the health and integrity of the tight junctions of your intestinal cells (also known as leaky gut) and may modify or balance your gut microbiota.
What does this mean?
Current research has shown that products produced from the fermentation of resistant starch help keep the gaps between your intestinal cells tight. Therefore nothing leaks through.
What are the products that are produced by the fermentation of fibre and resistant starch?
When the bugs or bacteria in your large intestine ferment fibre, they naturally produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are acetate, propionate, butyrate and succinate.
Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: What are they?
With all the hype around prebiotics, probiotics, fermented and probiotic food, it’s hard to know what is what. Well here’s what they all mean.
Prebiotics are nondigestible, natural, fermentable fibres that you may already eat every day. Our resource below contains tables that provide a list of foods containing prebiotics and those microorganisms that utilise these prebiotics for energy. Prebiotic fibre has distinct physical and chemical properties which interact with the microbiota of your gut and can affect your health in different ways. Also remember, all prebiotics are fibre but not all fibre is prebiotic.
To be classed as a prebiotic, the fibre must be:
Able to resist the acidity in your gastrointestinal tract, and is hydrolysed by enzymes being absorbed in your upper gastrointestinal tract;
Fermented by your gastrointestinal gut bugs; and
Selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria with the potential of providing positive health benefits.
Some health-related benefits include:
A natural reduction in the prevalence and duration of infectious and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea;
A reduction in inflammation and symptoms associated with bowel disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD);
May help prevent colon cancer;
Helps your body get the most minerals it can out of the food you eat e.g. calcium, magnesium, and maybe iron;
May decrease your risk factors of cardiovascular disease; and
Can make you feel fuller for longer which can help you lose weight and prevent obesity.
This is not to say that everyone will experience these same health benefits. After all, we are all a little different in the variety of foods we consume.
Major sources of prebiotics include soybeans, inulins, unrefined wheat and barley, raw oats, and non-digestible oligosaccharides such as fructans, polydextrose, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), xyliooligosaccharides (XOS) and arabinooligosaccharides (AOS). We now know that having 2-3 prebiotics fibres in your meals each day is beneficial to your gut health and can help to maintain a strong gut community.
Check out the free resource for more information.
Let’s just clarify some terms that you have probably heard in the popular media. The bacterial communities within your ecosystem are called your microbiota. Microbiota is a term used to describe the community of microorganisms that reside within specific areas of your body (e.g. your gut, mouth, vagina and skin).
These communities can include bacteria, viruses, yeast, worms and even certain species of fungi. However, the most abundant microorganisms found in your microbiota are bacteria.
You might have also heard of the term microbiome. The microbiome is the collection of genes and genomes of your microbiota. A genome is the collection of all the genes in an organism. By investigating the microbiome researchers can determine which microorganisms are in our microbiota and how they might function under certain conditions.
Please remember that this microbiota/microbiome area is very new and we still don’t know everything about it. It’s very difficult to find out how your microbiota interacts in the human body and what effects disease, food, medications, and just about everything else you can think of, have on your microbiota.
Research is slowly but surely providing evidence around these areas but this takes time so don’t believe everything you read. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. If you read something about the microbiota or microbiome check it out properly before taking what it says for granted.
To read more about your gut microbiota and how it's affected by the food we eat, download our free resources.