It is widely accepted by science and tradition alike that the health of our gut is vital to our overall health. After all, the gut is one of the only places in the body where we voluntarily take in nutrients from the environment, and while we’re relatively safe from infection from food now, that wasn’t the case when humans were hunter gatherers.
Ie. More than one somebody had to learn the hard way how to tell when the meat went bad, and when the berries they found weren’t edible.
That being said, we’re faced with a different kind of dietary concern in today’s society—diets full of refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and carcinogenic preservatives. Although it is different, the concern over the safety of what we consumed is still present in our lives.
Instead of (and sometimes in addition to) a stomach ache from bad meat, we’re prone to things like acid reflux and GERDs disease because we can’t break our food down properly—or food allergies because chronic indigestion leads to a thinning of intestinal walls, which allows undigested food into the bloodstream, which then causes a systemic immune reaction (ie: allergy).
The Human Microbiota
The human gut microbiome is a sensitive environment. When we didn’t have access to things like antibiotics and refined foods—when we ate a whole foods diet straight from our planet—our stomachs were fortified and teaming with good bacteria to help assimilate nutrients, break down foods, and fight off pathogens in our diet.
More and more research is being conducted to find out exactly what part the microbiota play in our bodies In fact, in a study by the National Institute of Health that compared the human microbiota with other species, it was found that the human gut was “extreme” and impacted largely by environment. They found that although “individual humans are about 99.9% identical to one another in terms of their host genome…[they] can be 80-90% different from one another in terms of the microbiome of their...gut.” This finding is being studied for the use in more personalized health care.
There are 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells living in a person’s gut, these trillions of cells are totally different than the person sitting next to them, or the person that they’re dating (maybe this gives a new definition to opposites attract?).
When we take antibiotics, eat foods that lack real nutrition, and are working with chronic stress (Oh, hello 2018), we’re having a negative impact on our own, unique microbiome.
Two Ways to Work with Your Microbiome Naturally
There are two generally accepted ways to improve your microbiome in the natural health community.
Probiotics. We talked about this in a previous article so we won’t go into detail here, but probiotics help to add good bacteria back into your gut. Probiotics like those found in good supplements or in fermented foods like kimchi or kombucha (my personal fav) help your body fight off pathogens from our environment and find its own balance.
Prebiotics. In short, prebiotics feed the unique microbiome that you already have.
What do Prebiotics Have to Do With my Gut?
When I suggest prebiotics to people, I often get a response along the lines, “I’m already taking a probiotic, why add another supplement?”
Remember when I told you that your gut microbiome could be 80-90% different than your neighbors?
That’s where prebiotics come in.
Probiotics are a good regular jumpstart to keeping your microbiome healthy because they add in pathogenic fighting bacterias that are present in some level in everyone’s gut, but think of them as adding a fresh frontline defense so you can build up your own ranks, rather than taking a magic balance pill.
Prebiotics are the rations you give to your belly-soldiers so that they can hold the line over time.
You’re a unique flower. It’s likely that no one in the world has the same gut balance as you do—hm.. and all this while we thought that was just something loved ones say to quell self conscious ideation.
Prebiotics feed your special balance so that you can feel your best in your body.
What are Prebiotics Made of?
So you know now that prebiotics feed your gut bacteria (or prebiotics) in your body—so then, what are they made of?
This is easy—fiber. Specifically, prebiotic fibers are indigestible in the gut and aren’t fermented until they reach the colon in your body.
You’re probably already eating some of these in your regular diet—onions, raw garlic, dandelion greens, apple (specifically the skins), and bananas are all prebiotic in nature.
If you’re feeling like you aren’t getting enough, you can try adding mix in a chicory root powder to your morning coffee (it’s pretty yummy and its 65% fiber).
You could also add a supplement to your daily routine.
ThePureWay Flora Support Prebiotic Supplement
Our prebiotic supplement is predominantly derived from chicory root—which is one of the most notable, natural prebiotics available to our species.
We don’t just package up organic chicory though, we focus our efforts on concentrating the prebiotic effect in the body by extracting the beta-glucan and inulin, both of which are long-chain polysaccharides that break down in the lower GI, from the chicory to offer your body easier access to the health promoting prebiotic activity.
The arabinogalactan, another starch that ferments in the intestinal tract, in our prebiotic is derived from the larch tree and in addition to feeding your good bacteria, is known to help boost immunity and protect the liver over time.
Do you take a prebiotic supplement? Share your journey in the comments below!