The Gut Microbiome: Are you taking the right probiotic?
24 Jun 2019
By Freya Lawler, Naturopath & Nutritionist
What is the purpose of our microbiome and what does it do for us?
- Modulates immune system
- Optimises motility
- Improves nutritional status
- Regulates metabolism
- Optimises mood
- Regulates blood glucose and insulin sensitivity
- Modulates inflammation
- …(and much, much more)
How do I diversify my microbiome?
- Reduce exposure to food additives and environmental chemicals
- Avoid un- necessary antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (reflux) and over the counter pain medications. Consider seeking a second opinion for treatment and discuss alternative options with your primary care provider. If you’re continually getting sick, or experiencing pain – assess the root cause of your symptoms with your health care provider. For example; is it a nutritional deficiency, dwindling microbiome, or ongoing stress that might be contributing to your symptoms?
- Enjoy an abundance of brightly coloured whole foods and plant fibres on a daily basis and reduce processed foods.
Probiotics to support microbiome health – are you taking the right probiotic?
We now know that probiotics are beneficial to human health, however – which strain is best? There are a multitude of options available over the counter at pharmacies, health food stores and supermarkets – so which one to choose?
An important concept to understand is that each strain of probiotic can have extremely different actions once inside the gastrointestinal tract.
For example: Lactobacillus plantarum strain 299v has been shown to effectively reduce IBS symptoms in a number of trials, whereas administration of L. plantarum strain MF1298 was found to actually worsen IBS symptoms.
This highlights the clinical significance of seeking a qualified health care provider who is up to date on the latest research to assess exactly which strain is beneficial for you and your unique symptoms, ensuring you’re achieving your desired therapeutic outcomes, and not in fact making your presenting symptoms worse.
Naturopaths may prescribe strain specific probiotics via:
- In depth case history and case analysis
- Functional stool testing – which assesses digestive capacity, microbial diversity and presence of parasites, funghi, yeast overgrowths and inflammatory markers.
When I take a probiotic, will the bacteria colonise my gut ?
It is a common misconception that probiotics re-colonise the gut. Permanent colonisation of well known strains is uncommon, however, modification and restoration of the gut is seen to occur through probiotic supplementation which can be invaluable to specific presenting symptoms and conditions.
What is your top tip for optimising the microbiome and overall gut health?
Diversity! A diverse microbiome is essential for optimising health and reducing adverse health outcomes.
A lack of microbial diversity has been associated with increased incidence of asthma, allergies, obesity, insulin resistance, autoimmune diseases and inflammation.
Diversifying the microbiome takes time, therefore implementing consistent long term dietary strategies to support microbial diversity is essential. Supplementation may be required initially to encourage optimal bacterial balance and reduce dysbiosis.
Which foods are best for gut health and diversifying the microbiome?
- Whole-foods from a minimally processed diet where plants are the hero’s in all meals. Plants that are rich in variety, rich in fibre
and rich in colour are key.
- Whole grains (Rice, millet, buckwheat, oats and rye i(f gluten is tolerated)
- Fruits and Vegetables – prebiotic rich ( onions, jerusalem artichoke, and fruits and vegetables high in soluble fiber (sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, asparagus, turnips, mango, avocados, strawberries, apricots)
- Nuts/Seeds – Raw
You can book an appointment with Freya here…
Guarner, F., et al., Probiotics and prebiotics. World Gastroenterology Organisation Global Guideline, 2011.
Marteau, P., Evidence of probiotic strain specificity makes extrapolation of results impossible from a strain to another, even from the same species. Annals of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 2011. 2(1): p. 34-36.
Ducrotte, P., P. Sawant, and V. Jayanthi, Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol, 2012. 18(30): p. 4012-8.
Niedzielin, K., H. Kordecki, and B. Birkenfeld, A controlled, double-blind, randomized study on the efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum 299V in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2001. 13: p. 1143-1147.
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