PreBiotics and ProBiotics, Which is Which and What To Do?
The truth of functional medicine and its approach is that we do a lot of work asking about, treating and learning about your digestive system. Food is the foundation of what becomes everything physical and mental about your health profile.
In the last decade or so, many studies have focused on how our gut or microbiome influences our health in ways both physical and mental. The focus of those studies has been the numerous types of bacteria in our gut which are key to our healthy digestion of the food we eat.
The immune properties of our gut are so powerful, the gut is actually the first source of inflammation and immunity. Actually clinicians and researchers are viewing our gut as another, separate organ of the body. The extension of this concept has led to research and clinical trials of transplantation from healthy patients into sick patients of material from the healthy patient’s microbiome to try and heal the sick patient. This research has also examined the microbiome of obese patients.
It turns out that transplanting portions of a lean and health persons’s microbiome into that of an obese patient may help. In randomized, placebo controlled studies of these types of transplants, a set of lean patients with a high sensitivity to insulin (their bodies are working well) had samples of their microbiome transplanted into obese patients. Some of the obese patients received transplants of their own microbiome as control subjects. All were unaware which type of microbiome they received. In most of the obese patients, but not all, their insulin sensitivity improved. However, once the experiment concluded and the obese patients resumed their normal diets, the effects of this elevated insulin sensitivity wore off.
The most beneficial donors were labeled as super donors. Their microbiome was found to have larger amounts of short-chain fatty acid-producing intestinal bacteria. These bacteria are those that thrive and multiply when we eat fiber.
You can get this similar benefit by ensuring you consume healthy, whole foods designed to feed the health bacteria in your gut. These types of transplants and even regularly consuming probiotics are only temporary fixes. They won’t lead to long term health if you continue putting the wrong type of fuel into your gut. Eating prebiotics, such as fiber through consuming more whole plant foods, you may increase the growth of good bacteria.
Daily consumption of high fiber foods will work to maintain the balance of healthy gut bacteria. This will not only improve digestion and energy, but also reduce the likelihood of the development of chronic disease not only of the gut such as acid reflux, inflammation of the gallbladder and liver malfunctions. It also reduces the likelihood of ALL chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, auto-immune diseases to name a few) as the core source of these diseases is chronic inflammation.
As I have said in more recent posts regarding COVID-19, being chronically inflamed puts you at higher risk of more serious complications from a COVID-19 infection. Eat healthy and stay safe.
Wonder what your microbiome looks like? We do that!!!
ReNew offers advanced GI testing to answer all your burning (pun intended) questions.