Both inside and out, our bodies play host to an incredible number of micro-organisms. From bacteria to fungi, viruses and other microbes, this army of tiny micro-organisms together make up our microbiome - dubbed 'the forgotten organ'. With a growing body of evidence linking our microbiome to factors such as our immune function, mental health, memory, genetic expression, and risk of chronic disease, this 'forgotten organ' is no longer being ignored.
DID YOU KNOW? THERE ARE 10 TIMES MORE BACTERIA LIVING WITHIN YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT THAN THERE ARE CELLS IN YOUR ENTIRE BODY
The reality is that, at this point in time, there is still a lot to be discovered and understood when it comes to the microbiome, and delving deep into gut health is complicated and can leave many questions unanswered. Putting things really simply, two important factors include:
1. DIVERSITY IS KEY It is thought that having a wide range of micro-organisms, namely bacteria, in your gastrointestinal tract is beneficial to one's health. Research is beginning to unveil that a lack of diversity in gut bacteria may be linked to all sorts of health issues.
2. THEY'RE NOT ALL FRIENDLY
Unfortunately not all the bacteria in our gut are friendly. Necessary? Yes! But if the balance of good/friendly and bad bacteria is disrupted, and the bad guys take over, then an state of imbalance known as dysbiosis may occur.
As with all areas of our health, achieving a healthy microbiome requires intuition and an appreciation that our bodies are forever evolving and responding to the dynamic world in which we live. Every day we're subjected to a plethora of factors that threaten the balance of the gut - anything from illness to stress, poor diet, antibiotics, pollution, lack of sleep, and excess alcohol, can upset our digestive ecosystems.
Probiotics are essentially the friendly bacteria found in the gut that benefit our digestive function, immune system, and so much more. Often when we talk about probiotics we think of them in their supplemental form, which is hardly a surprise given the sheer volume of products on offer online and on the shelves. Unfortunately it's the case that most effective probiotic supplements come with a hefty price tag, which can make them a big commitment for many. The good news is that many foods are abundant in probiotics too! What's more, the body will always favour real foods in their natural form over isolated substances - so the effect of food type probiotics may be even greater.
So whether you're recovering from a stressful period, a course of antibiotics, or perhaps some digestive discomfort, here are 6 go-to products that will provide you with a boost of friendly bacteria, helping both your gut and wellbeing thrive: