You’ve probably heard the term ‘friendly bacteria’. Since when did bacteria become friendly? Since scientists discovered we need bacteria to survive.

Our digestive system is home to trillions of bacteria (called our ‘microbiome’), and it’s their job to help us to digest food and fight off invaders.

However not all of the microorganisms living in our gut are friendly. Some of the bacteria strains living in our gut, such as enterobacteriaceae, can cause inflammation and damage to the intestines if they get out of control.

At any time there’s a constant battle between good and bad bacteria in your gut. What you eat and how you live decides whether the healthy or harmful bacteria get the upper hand.

the importance of digestive health

To state the obvious, digestion is essential to life. While the main function of the digestive system is the uptake of water and nutrients, it also plays an important role in the immune system. In both cases, the beneficial microflora living in your gut are important workers. They:

• Ferment substances that can’t be digested by the small intestine, and this fermentation process produces lactic acid and short chain
fatty acids that improve the absorption of minerals and assist lipid and glucose metabolism in the liver.
• Protect against invading ‘bad’ bacteria.
• Provide a protective barrier to the entry of harmful substances.
• Communicate with cells of the gastrointestinal immune system and the liver to coordinate an immune response to food toxins and
harmful microorganisms.movements/week) dose of Actazin®.

common digestive problems

Everyone has annoying digestive problems from time to time, but sometimes they don’t go away in a couple of days – or they turn into something really nasty. Symptoms can include constipation, bloating, gas and diarrhoea. Even just a general feeling of ‘unwellness’ can be linked to an unhappy digestive system.

Unbalanced Gut (Dysbiosis)
Gut health begins at birth. Each of us is born with a sterile gastrointestinal tract, but we rapidly develop our own intestinal microflora – literally trillions of microbes. This is called the ‘microbiome’.

The disruption of our microbiome balance – by poor nutrition, stress, antibiotic use and age – compromises our digestive system’s ability to perform vital functions, which can lead to serious health problems.

Typically, people have bowel movements anywhere from three times a week to three times a day. Anything less than three times a week is defined as constipation. Some people experience constipation only occasionally, while for others it’s an ongoing problem.

The most common cause of constipation is not getting enough fluid and fibre in your diet, generally through not eating enough fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Consuming too much fat, sugar, protein, dairy, alcohol or caffeine can also add to constipation.

Other causes of constipation include:
• not getting enough physical activity
• travel or other change in routine
• prolonged periods of immobility
• taking certain medicines – especially some pain-killers – or using laxatives too often
• pregnancy
• depression
• hormonal problems, such as an underactive thyroid gland

steps to digestive health

There’s a huge weight of research that shows gut health is central to overall wellbeing. And gut health demands the right balance of intestinal microflora.

How to maintain the balance:
• Eat fresh – ensure the bulk of your diet is natural and not refined, processed foods
• Keep regular by consuming plenty of fibre and fluids
• Eat or take prebiotics – feed your beneficial gut bacteria with high fibre foods and non-digestible carbohydrates
• Eat or take probiotics – boost the levels of beneficial bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement and/or eating fermented foods, such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and yoghurt
• Eat slowly and chew thoroughly this helps your body to digest food and absorb nutrients
• Find a supplement that includes Actazin® – an easy way to get high quality, whole fruit fibre and prebiotics every day.