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Why overall gut health is vital to wellbeing

Body

It's difficult to ignore when something is amiss with our gut health.

For one, the bloating and cramping become uncomfortable alarm-bells that all is not as it should be.

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File image: Pexels

The human gut is home to billions of bacteria (microflora) which play a significant role in not only digestive health, but immune system health too. Therefore, keeping the microbiota in the gastro-intestinal tract in a well-balanced state is imperative for overall health and wellbeing.

This is according to Professor Leon Dicks, head of the probiotic and antimicrobial peptide laboratory in the Department of Microbiology at Stellenbosch University and developer of the probiotic strains in the entiro™ product.

He said that under normal circumstances, healthy human bodies are maintained at a temperature of 37 °C with high humidity, which makes our bodies a conducive environment for many harmful bacteria to thrive. “To protect us from bad bacteria and other pathogens, the body has an array of processes and defence mechanisms, known collectively as the immune system, 75 % of which is located in the gut.”

It is therefore vital that people maintain a balance of microflora in their gut in order to achieve and maintain overall health as an imbalance in gut flora could lead to various digestive disturbances, he continued.

“When the gut flora becomes imbalanced, a release of toxic metabolic products is induced and may be followed by conditions or discomfort including: flatulence, bloating, intestinal pain and inflammation, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea. Literature indicates that an imbalance in gut flora should be considered as a contributing factor in conditions such as: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Rheumatoid arthritis,” Dicks added.

Various factors such as a poor diet, high stress, travel, gastroenteritis or taking antibiotics, can cause an imbalance in the gut flora, so it is necessary for most people to supplement their diet with a high quality daily probiotic, Dicks added. “When all the friendly and hard-working microbes are put into the form of a tablet and called a probiotic – the whole body’s functioning can be enhanced.”

He explained that it is important to ensure that the probiotic protects the entire gut. “There are limited sites in the gut that bacteria can bind to, so both the good and the bad bacteria are essentially competing for the same binding sites. A good probiotic product will adhere strongly to the entire gut so that the pathogens are prevented from binding to the gut.”

There are only two strains of probiotics required to effectively protect the gut, he said. “The first one should adhere predominantly to the small intestine due to the prevailing acidic and aerobic environment – in entiro™ known as Lactobacillus plantarum (423). The other probiotic strain should prefer the more alkaline and anaerobic conditions of the large intestine – in entiro™ known as Enterococcus mundtii (ST4SA). By combining both, this results in a complete lining of the gastrointestinal tract.”

“Although there are many probiotics on the market, it is important to ensure that you take a good quality probiotic which treats and protects both the small and large intestine. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t put up a wall surrounding only half your property to protect it against intruders, so why would you only protect half your gut against bad bacteria,” concluded Dicks.

(Adapted from a press release)

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