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Why PRE-biotics Are The New Key To Optimal Gut Health

Microbiome and gut health are topics I've written a lot of words about over the past couple years. 

The bacteria in our gut have an immense influence on our health - our body composition, emotional health and immune function are all strongly influenced by the bacteria in our gut. [1]

Having a robust, healthy microbiome is a critical part of the foundation for true health. A weak, imbalanced microbiome, on the other hand, can leave you overweight, depressed and sick regardless of how perfect the rest of your diet and lifestyle is.

So, yes - the bacteria in our gut are important, and we've barely scratched the surface of learning the intricacies of how our gut bacteria affect our health.

This increase in awareness around the influence of the microbiome is why probiotics have become a multi-billion-dollar industry over the past few years and are projected to be a 50+ billion dollar industry by 2020.

Probiotics are a significant component of the gut health puzzle, and I'm a huge advocate for the spore-based probiotic Mega Sporebiotic - but they're not the only component.

While PRO-biotics have exploded in popularity, PRE-biotics have gone largely ignored.

I believe this is a huge oversight as getting optimal levels of prebiotics in the diet is arguably the single most important component of the gut health equation.

What are prebiotics?

In short, prebiotics are the components of our foods that our gut bacteria consume and require to live.

If you get optimal levels of prebiotics in your diet, your microbiome will thrive. Conversely, eat a diet deficient in prebiotics and the “good bacteria” in your gut will starve and parasitic bacteria will thrive, creating a long list of negative health effects.

For this reason, getting optimal amounts of prebiotics in your diet is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to maintain a healthy microbiome (and thus, a healthy body).

What makes our relationship to our microbiome so cool is that the prebiotics that our beneficial gut bacteria thrive on are the exact components in our foods that we lack the enzymes to digest and utilize ourselves.

Why Are Prebiotics Important?

Your overall system health is intricately and inextricably tied to the health of the bacteria in your gut. Without adequate levels of prebiotics in the diet, beneficial gut flora suffer and parasitic and pathogenic bacteria can take over and wreck our health.

Below is a list of absolutely indispensable functions beneficial gut flora perform for our body. If your microbiome is imbalanced or otherwise weak or unhealthy, these functions are not performed at optimal levels, or, in some cases, performed in a way that is actually harmful to the body.

  1. Vitamin + Nutrient Conversion

    Our gut flora break down prebiotics, and in the process convert them into vitamins and other critical nutrients that then get used by our body. These include:

    • Vitamin K
    • Biotin
    • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
    • Vitamin B9 (folate)
    • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
    • Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid)
    • Vitamin B6 (pyroxidine)
    • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
    • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
    • Butyric Acid
    This conversion by our microbiome of prebiotics into vitamins is a significant source of highly-bioavailable nutrients for us. Increasing the amount of high-quality prebiotics in your diet is one of the best ways we have to increase the nutrients available to your body. [2]

  2. Immune System Training + "First Line Of Defense"
    Having a robust microbiome in our gut and our various other mucus membranes will kill invading bacteria and viruses before they are allowed to make their way into our bloodstream. It is this first-line-of-defense function that compelled some microbiologists to declare that the bacteria in our gut may account for more than 80% of our immune function. [3]

    What we're just starting to learn more about is the role our microbiome plays in training our immune cells to recognize what is a threat and what is not. We now know that there is a complex interaction between our microbiome and our immune cells in which signaling molecules are exchanged in both directions.

    There is growing evidence that an unhealthy microbiome doesn't adequately perform the role of training the immune system, leading to an overactive immune system that results in allergies, chronic inflammation and various autoimmune diseases. [4]

  3. Regulate Appetite, Fat Storage And Weight Gain
    Most people assume hunger is a function of the nutrients, or lack thereof, in our body.  This is the case to a small degree, but the truth is, hunger is much more accurately described as a hormonal process. 

    When our blood sugar gets low, cells in our stomach and pancreas release the hormone ghrelin (aka "the hunger hormone"), which, in turn, produces a number of downstream effects throughout the body and brain that we experience as "hunger".

    The frequency and magnitude of ghrelin release is influenced greatly by the bacteria in our gut. An imbalanced microbiome can cause ghrelin release to spiral out of control, leading to increased hunger and overeating.

    The microbiome also plays a role in regulating insulin release, our body's primary hormone for initiating fat storage. Imbalances in the microbiome reliably disrupt ghrelin and insulin function, and increased fat storage and weight gain are almost always the result. [5]

  4. Modulate Hormonal Function + Behavior (!)
    Insulin and ghrelin are far from the only hormones influenced by the bacteria in our gut. Dozens of studies in recent years have shown that our microbiome is constantly modulating our hormonal system via dozens (if not hundreds) of unique pathways. [6] This microbiome-mediated hormonal modulation impacts our metabolic function and influences which genes get expressed throughout the body.

    But perhaps most intriguingly, our microbiome has been shown to produce neurochemicals that actually change our emotional state and behavior. [7] Having an weak or imbalanced microbiome has been strongly correlated to clinical depression and anxiety. [1]

The 3 Types Of Prebiotics

Building a robust microbiome that performs all of these functions optimally requires care in multiple areas - but it's impossible to overstate the importance of getting optimal levels of prebiotics in the diet on a daily basis.

There are three primary types of prebiotics, and different types of beneficial gut flora thrive on each of the three. Miss any one, and part of your microbiome will suffer.

Resistant Starches

Resistant starch (RS) is fermented by specific types of flora in the colon to form short chain fatty acids (SFCA's) like butyrate. The presence of butyrate in the colon, in turn, stimulates colonic bloodflow and electrolyte uptake. [8] This is a critical component of colon function and without resistant starches, digestion and nutrient uptake suffer.

Resistant starch is the most difficult of the prebiotics to get consistently in the diet. Food sources include green plantains, uncooked potatoes, jerusalem artichokes and sushi rice - but the best route is to supplement.

Soluble Fibers

In addition to feeding flora and undergoing conversion into various nutrients, soluble fibers are also generally bulky and thus play a critical role in ensuring consistent transit time of food matter through the GI tract. 

Sources include carrots, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, beets, plantains, taro and yucca.

Insoluble Fibers

Sources include leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, chard, etc.), bell peppers, eggplant, celery, cabbage, bok choi, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli.

Optimizing Your Prebiotic Intake

The reality is, almost none of us are consistently getting optimal levels of prebiotics in our diet on a daily basis, and our microbiome health is well below optimal as a result.

We stand to gain a ton by getting optimal levels of prebiotcs in our diet on a daily basis, and this was a primary consideration I set out to create the formula that is now known as Synchro DigestCleanse.

DigestCleanse is designed to deliver the ideal ratios of resistant starch, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber for microbiome health. A serving of DigestCleanse each day ensures your microbiome has the ideal nutrients it needs to thrive.

In addition, DigestCleanse was specifically formulated to remove stagnant material and toxins (heavy metals, mold toxins) and parasites (candida) from the GI tract.

This combination of microbiome support and GI cleansing + detoxification has a tremendous beneficial impact on digestion quality, nutrient absorption and as a result - overall body-mind health. 

Learn more about DigestCleanse here.

Stay Synchro, 

Graham Ryan

     

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 [1] http://besynchro.com/blogs/blog/16338596-is-there-a-connection-between-gut-bacteria-and-depression

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095816691200119X

[3] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v474/n7351/abs/nature10213.html

[4] http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8904739&fileId=S0007114512003479

[5] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7122/full/4441009a.html

[6] http://www.pnas.org/content/100/15/8951.short

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828163/

[8] http://physrev.physiology.org/content/81/3/1031?ref=dod-jptc.org

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