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 beneficial bacteria (called our ‘microbiome’), and it’s their job to help us to digest food and fight
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 (bacteria) living in your gut are important workers. They:
TIME MAGAZINE, June 2012
“Our surprisingly complex internal ecology has been a hot topic in medicine lately. Initiatives such as the Human Microbiome Project,
an extension of the Human Genome Project, have been working tirelessly to probe potential links between the human microbiota and human health, and to construct strategies for manipulating the bacteria so that they work with us rather than against us.
Much of the time, our gut bugs are indeed more helpmates than invaders. They’re essential to the digestive process and they can boost the immune system by regulating the population of certain immune cells and preventing autoimmunity.”*
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 beneficial bacteria. 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:
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive problem that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.
It tends to appear when people are young or middle-aged (before age 45 years), rather than later in life, and affects twice as many women as men. Probiotics are an emerging therapy for treating IBS, and prebiotics help the probiotics to work.
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: