There is a lot of talk around about gut health, the microbiome, microbiota, the second brain, diet for immunity, gut health and immunity etc.etc. Because Velvet Cloud is a live fermented product, these topics are obviously of interest to us. This post in an attempt to summarise in layman’s language some of the most recent thinking and developments in the area.
What’s Gut Health ? and Why Gut Health Is Important?
There is currently a lot of discussion and more importantly much improved and rapidly developing scientific understanding about the importance of gut health and the microbiome.
It is now accepted that there is a very important relationship between our microbes and our overall physiology.
Does your gut microbiome affect your health?
Diet is considered one of the biggest determinants of gut microbiome composition and, therefore, of an immune system in good shape.
For example scientists in UCC have shown a clear relationship between the composition and diversity of the microbiome with health outcomes – elderly people with more diverse microbiomes had much better indices of frailty and cognitive health.
How do the microbes in your gut influence your health in so many ways?
In the words of Professor John Cryan “Microbes are little factories producing all sorts of little chemicals , that our bodies would not make without them. These chemicals, depending on what food stuffs you take in can benefit all aspects of human health”
Can Gut Health Affect Mental Health? Can Gut Health Cause Anxiety?
Your brain health depends on what your microbes are eating. There is a whole new area of scientific studies emerging into what is called nutritional psychiatry, where mental health can be targeted through dietary means.
Can your gut health influence certain diseases?
When scientist looked at the gut microbiome of communities that maintain ancestral type diets, it appears that (as a result of Western diets) we are actually killing off certain microbes. And if you look at diseases like multiple sclerosis , IBS (inflammatory bowel disease) diabetes and obesity, they are not present in these ancestral communities So now a lot of work is going into understanding the role these missing microbes have in driving these diseases.
Can what you eat, influence or prevent certain diseases?
It’s too early to be that precise, but in 2020, scientists have improved their understanding of the therapeutic effects of diet mediated by the gut microbiome in both gastrointestinal conditions and systemic diseases (Systemic means affecting the entire body, rather than a single organ or body part. For example, systemic disorders, such as high blood pressure, or systemic diseases, such as the flu, affect the entire body).
Probiotics And Gut Health
What are the benefits of taking probiotics?
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning "for life"), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.
Benefits of taking probiotics
Not all probiotics are the same. Different strains of the bacteria have different effects. For example, one strain may fight against cavity-causing organisms in our mouths and don't need to survive a trip through our guts.
Research has been promising for these friendly critters. Potential benefits of probiotics have been seen in the treatment or prevention of
- irritable bowel syndrome
- ulcerative colitis
- Crohn's disease
- H. pylori (the cause of ulcers)
- vaginal infections
- urinary tract infections
- recurrence of bladder cancer
- infection of the digestive tract caused by Clostridium difficile
- pouchitis (a possible side effect of surgery that removes the colon)
- eczema in children.
Why is this good news for our sheep’s milk yogurt?
Some of the recent findings are:
The microbioimes of fermented foods are extremely diverse and their potential health-promoting attributes are superior when compared to nonfermented equivalents. Velvet Cloud sheep’s milk yogurt is a non-processed, all natural fermented food.
Consuming fermented foods riche in lactic acid bateria has been shown to enrich the human gut with these potentially probiotic microorganisms, in a similar way to probiotics. Velvet Cloud sheep’s milk yogurt is a food rich in lactic acid bacteria.
Observational data has shown that health benefits associated with yogurt consumption may be explained as a result of improving gut barrier function.
Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan 1; 3(1): 4–14. doi: 10.4161/gmic.19320
Feed your gut health nurture you mind – Ted Talk – Prof – John F. Cryan
GUT MICROBIOTA RESEARCH & PRACTICE edited by ESNM - A selection of content from the Gut Microbiota for Health 2019
Rockefeller University. "How the immune system deals with the gut's plethora of microbes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2020.
What exactly is gut health?
Gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. Looking after the health of the gut and maintaining the right balance of these microorganisms is vital for physical and mental health, immunity, and more. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325293#probiotics-and-fermented-foods)
The community of microbes that live in your gut are called your microbiota.
The opposite of gut health is called Gut dysbiosis and is an imbalance of these gut microbiota.
What can affect gut health?
There are thousands of articles written about the relationship between diet and gut health, and while this is a slight oversimplification there tends to be agreement that a healthy diet which does not contain processed foods or refined sugars is the way to go.
What we eat, especially foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, affects our gut environment and increases our risk of diseases. Ultra-processed foods contain substances extracted from food (such as sugar and starch), added from food constituents (hydrogenated fats), or made in a laboratory (flavor enhancers, food colourings) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/gut-feelings-how-food-affects-your-mood-2018120715548
Managing stress is important for many aspects of health, including gut health. Animal have suggested that psychological stressors can disrupt the microorganisms in the intestines, even if the stress is only short-lived. (Galley JD, Nelson MC, Yu Z, et al. Exposure to a social stressor disrupts the community structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota. BMC Microbiol. 2014;14:189. Published 2014 Jul 15. doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-189) https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2180-14-189
Overuse of antibiotics
Although it is often necessary to take antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, overuse is a significant public health concern that can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are also damaging to the gut microbiota and immunity, with some research reporting that even 6 months after their use, the gut still lacks several species of beneficial bacteria. (Palleja, A., Mikkelsen, K.H., Forslund, S.K. et al. Recovery of gut microbiota of healthy adults following antibiotic exposure. Nat Microbiol 3, 1255–1265 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-018-0257-9)
Can gut health affect anxiety or can gut heath lead to depression?
Two leading medical researchers (who happen to be Irish based in University College Cork) have done much work on the association between gut health and mental health, in fact they have come up with a new word to name the microbes that can improve your mood psychoboitoics. These microbes are major players in the gut-brain axis: the communication between your gut and your mind. If you are interested in this topic I would highly recommend a book The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection by John F. Cryan, Scott C. Anderson, and Ted Dina.https://www.ucc.ie/en/research/spotlight/thepsychobioticrevolution/
I will post future blogs with some of the insights from the book, which are fascinating. If you are interested in how a healthy gut can drive psychological well-being, improve your mood, and combat an array of diseases including depression, anxiety, obesity and heart disease this book is for you.
Are gut health tests worth it?
Patients are often told “Its all in your mind” because there is a limit to what doctors can test for. But the reality being revealed by pyschobiotic research is that many issues we think of as purely mental are actually directly related to gut dysbiosis. ( John F. Cryan, Scott C. Anderson, and Ted Dina )
Unfortunately there are still very few tools to prove the health of your microbiota, so it can be difficult to analyze the health of your microbiota, therefore it’s hard to proove that something real is at work and that it’s not just your imagination. Recent work done at the University of California, San Diego, has shown that a computer can discriminate healthy from dysbiotic guts, so help may soon be on the way. (M. Yazdani, B. C. Taylor, J. W. Debelius, W. Li, R. Knight and L. Smarr, "Using machine learning to identify major shifts in human gut microbiome protein family abundance in disease," 2016 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), Washington, DC, 2016) https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7840731?part=1
But for now understanding the importance of a healthy gut and how it can be responsible for our physical and mental well-being is crucial.