Our gut is a dwelling for many billions of microbes (bacterial flora). Some are beneficial and have positive health benefits that keep us thriving whilst others are bad for us, causing sickness, diarrhoea or impacting our health and well-being.
Gut microbes have been linked to indicators of health and disease such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), mental health – such as depression and anxiety. More and more, scientists are discovering the ramifications of these microbes on humans in an ever-wider impact on our health.
These gut microbes that live in us all help break down our food, producing several metabolites (chemical components produced through metabolism). They affect our body’s ability to metabolise foods influencing our blood sugar and blood fat levels after eating.
The diversity of the bacterial flora in our microbiome (your belly garden) can be affected by medications and lifestyle factors such as age, diet, stress level, smoking and drinking, and potentially even by bacteria inherited from our mothers when we were born.
The most significant impact on our microbiome diversity is the food that we consume daily. The reason being our microorganisms fuel up on the contents of our gut – we are what we eat – or at least our gut flora is. This has meant understanding and studying the impact of gut health has been challenging, with study sizes being very typically small.
Change and more information are coming.
Now the boffins at Project Zoe, who look at links between food & diet using large cross-sections of the populations and PREDICT studies, are getting involved in understanding gut flora and our microbiomes.
Over the next couple of months, Supplement Factory will explore gut health links to diet and health outcomes. We want to share this with you to make informed decisions when choosing bacteria strains for your probiotic products.
We will be following the latest research to bring you the most up-to-date findings linking microbiome and nutrients to better health outcomes, diet, and mental health. Then you can discover with us how we can encapsulate probiotics and package them safely to harness their lifecycle in our state-of-the-art production facility in the UK for your valued consumers.
Battle of the bacteria – what we think we know
For centuries, it has been believed that gut microbes play an essential part in our health, with a varied diet and natural yoghurt-based drinks providing the microbiome (flora) range we need. However, determining which are excellent and harmful microbes has been challenging, as people react differently to these complex microbes due to variations in diet and lifestyle.
Not until recently have studies shown which microbes impact our bodies and how microorganisms are hosted inside us. We now know that they help aid our metabolism of food by breaking down nutrients more affectively to amnio acid and precursor metabolites so that the body can absorb them speedily and react to your specific and immediate needs. This means that we can move quicker, feel better (make hormones that make you feel more positive such as dopamine and serotonin). They may also break down foods more effectively, resulting in less bloating or flatulence. Notwithstanding the above, which is the tip of the iceberg, our gut flora has a potential impact on levels of heart disease, diabetes, and immunity ailments. However, these studies are still in their infancy and involving small group sizes. Imagine if we could control it with more precision!
What we know
The most recent research comes from the Zoe Project through the PREDICT (Personalised Responses to Diet Composition Trials). Using the detailed long-term diet information and responses to fasting and same meal consumption using postprandial cardiometabolic blood markers measurements to study what is happening from 1098 people and analysis of their microbiome.
The study has identified 1,208 metagenomic sequences of gut microbiomes from this group of people. The scientists from Kings College, London, and Stanford and Harvard Universities in the USA have found associations between microbes and specific nutrients, foods, food groups, and dietary indices. Dietary indices quantify dietary variance in a single measure, allowing a means of controlling diet to gain an ability to study impacts on the microbiome itself.
This study found that certain intestinal microbiome species were associated with healthy dietary habits that overlapped with cardiometabolic such as heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, liver disease and postprandial glycaemic, lipemic and inflammatory indicators. Therefore, concluding the possible link that if your diet were missing these microbiome florae, you might be at risk of developing these health conditions.
Overall, the PREDICT study highlighted 15 gut microbes associated with good health and healthier diets. It leads us to understand that changing what we eat can change our microbiome. Eating a diverse, nutritious diet is not always possible with our busy lifestyles and access to fresh food choices. It leads us to the option of supplementing our diets with well-researched ingredients in various dosage formats.
Here at the Supplement Factory, we can guide Supplement Brands to choose the right bacteria strains for your probiotic products.
If you would like to manufacture probiotic products, please call us at +44(0)330 311 2761, or click here to request a quote and we promise to help you through your manufacturing journey.